Economy could be turning around

Published 10:19 am Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Is the economy beginning its slow turn towards growth again?

The verdict is still out, but a few subtle signs are promising.

First, new businesses continue to see opportunity in Greenville.Tractor Supply Company will open in September or October. The store will occupy at least 23,000 square-foot of the old Winn Dixie building. It will be the 17th such store in Alabama for the national company which operates 800 stores across 40 states, providing livestock supplies, agricultural equipment, animal feed, pet supplies, and more. Southern Treasures, an antique and consignment store, is opening in downtown Greenville, the first business to take advantage of the city’s downtown revitalization grant project. The grant provides tax breaks for both new businesses that choose to locate downtown and property owners who choose to renovate existing buildings. Hooks BBQ is also re-opening under new owner, Steve Harrell. A ribbon cutting and grand opening will be held on Aug. 6 at 10 a.m.

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Second, Hyundai announced on Monday that it was returning to a five-day workweek for the remainder of July. The company did not make a commitment to maintain that five-day schedule into the month of August, but this is an encouraging sign and Hyundai’s decision will also help its network of suppliers in central Alabama. Many Tier 1 and Tier 2 suppliers have had to cut workdays due to decreased demand from Hyundai. The loss in sales tax dollars alone has been significant. Both the Sonata and Santa Fe, which are made in Hope Hull, sold well during the spring. Hopefully, the summer will bring equally good news.

Third, the acquisition of the debt on Chapman Forest Products by Coastal Plywood Company is an interesting development. As reported in this newspaper last week, Coastal Plywood acquired the debt from International Paper Company. What does this mean? Right now, uncertainty. Over 300 people are still out of work. Whether or not those 300 people return to work in Chapman is still very much in the air, but big companies do not acquire debt without a purpose in mind. Until that purpose is revealed, we just have to wait and see.