Cherish memories, past and present

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, February 26, 2003

Each person cherishes memories of growing up in a hometown.

It is no different with me.

Growing up in Luverne has provided many wonderful memories and for whatever reason I revisited many of them this week.

I think I was prompted to do so primarily by the Hyundai announcement.

As a young boy, I lived on West 6th Street and every day after school would walk from my home to my father’s place of business, The Fair Store on Forest Avenue.

The path I took to the store was through the parking lot of Foster Brothers Manufacturing Company, later to become Luverne Slacks Company.

I never will forget looking down one bright spring afternoon and finding a half dollar on the ground.

We don’t see many half dollars today, but in the forties and fifties they were a very prominent piece of change which we all carried in our pocket.

Running across a 50 cent piece was quite a &uot;find&uot; for a young man around age 10.

In many respects those were the &uot;good ole days&uot; in Luverne.

Our factories were flourishing, our people were gainfully employed and the business climate was very positive.

Over the past couple of decades we have had some setbacks that have taken their toll on employment opportunities and economic development.

The new Hyundai assembly plant, which will create more than 400 jobs, could be the shot in the arm that reverses this trend.

Shin Young Metal Industrial Company announced plans this past week to build a $110 million plant on US 331 two miles north of Luverne.

This company will make automobile body parts for the vehicles built at the Montgomery main location.

Shin Young is the third major supplier to follow Hyundai Motor Company to central Alabama.

Other plants have located in Shorter and in Montgomery near the airport.

There will be others located in our area, and I am confident the cities of Greenville, Prattville and Troy, among others, will also land some of these companies.

The town of Brantley is actively pursuing a company which has shown considerable interest in locating in that fine community.

I had the privilege of visiting with several of the company principals, including Ho Gap Kang and John Chui Kim, both of who seemed extremely enthusiastic about selecting Luverne and Crenshaw County for their plant.

They also showed a great deal of knowledge about our area and the state of Alabama.

It certainly strikes me that this fine company has done its homework.

At the ceremony in Montgomery announcing this plant, John Harrison, ADECA Director and former Mayor of Luverne, presided, and Governor Bob Riley made the formal statement about the company’s decision.

Ho Gap Kang responded on behalf of the company.

There are many people, including Mayor Harrison, who are responsible for landing this fine plant, but none is probably more responsible than Doni Ingram, Crenshaw County’s very effective Director of Economic and Industrial Development.

Doni will be the first to admit that she has and great cooperation and support from many other people, but she is the driving force behind the successful efforts which have taken place.

One the exciting things about this new company is the prospect it brings for additional job opportunities and a revitalization of the communities in and around Crenshaw County.

There are several empty buildings in downtown Luverne and this new activity may or may not have a positive effect on the future of the business community.

But I am optimistic that it will.

My congratulations to the leadership of the city of Luverne and Crenshaw County, and my pledge to be of continued assistance to the town of Brantley, and cities of Prattville, Greenville and Troy in their pursuit of similar Hyundai suppliers.

Remember, &uot;I’ll go with you or I’ll go for you&uot; to help you solve any problem related to state government.

Senator Wendell Mitchell can be reached at 334-242-7883, or by writing to P O Box 225, Luverne, Alabama 36049.