Strange predicts bright future for Butler County

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 28, 2004

Monday night former Alabama Development Office Director Todd Strange spoke about the highs and lows that he'd experienced during the Hyundai recruitment process to a group of local business leaders during the Butler County Manufacturers Association's quarterly meeting.

The conversation, laced with knee-slapping stories and hard realities, hit home to those in attendance who may not fully realize what the future holds for our city and county and what it took to get us this far.

Now that the euphoria of the Hyundai supplier announcements has subsided and construction continues at Hwashin and Hysco, many are looking around and wondering when the glory days that were promised will come.

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Based on what Strange implied by "looking in his crystal ball," they're just on the horizon and they'll be much better than anyone ever imagined. But the work is not done and the payoff is enormous for everyone who lives in Butler County considering that once Hwashin and Hysco go on line with their announced job totals, there will be an almost immediate $13 million payroll impact in our community.

While we don't think every penny will stay in Butler County due to commuting workers, nobody can argue the significance of this much new money circulating within the borders of Butler County. And there's more.

Speculation has run rampant since Hyundai announced that they might follow other automotive manufacturers such as Mercedes, Honda and Nissan and quickly double their initial production numbers once they go on line.

While nobody can say for sure at this point, the fact is that Hyundai wants to be, and will be, a major player in the U.S. automotive market and to accomplish that task, they will need more factories, more materials, and more importantly for us, more labor.

Strange hit on that during his talk. We need to be ready and we need to be willing. So how do we do that? As a community we need to continue to put our best foot forward and make sure both our business climate and community focus is strong and proactive. We need to support our city and county governments in their search for more jobs and put away any personal agendas and grudges and do what's right for the future of this community. Otherwise, we may never get another chance.

What we're seeing now is only the beginning of something special. Let's make sure it's also not the end of it.