Canfield: County must ‘keep moving’
Published 3:38 pm Friday, September 11, 2015
Business leaders, community members, and local city, county and state officials gathered Thursday morning at the Wendell Mitchell Conference Center on the campus of LBW Community College for an Executive Briefing Breakfast sponsored by PowerSouth Energy and co-hosted by Pioneer Electric Cooperative.
Alabama’s Secretary of Commerce Greg Canfield served as the guest speaker. Canfield, who took the helm of the Alabama Department of Commerce in 2011, is charged with implementing the state’s economic development strategic plan, Accelerate Alabama. Accelerate Alabama is meant to provide direction for Alabama’s economic development efforts.
Canfield spoke about economic development and growth in Butler County and surrounding areas.
“Rural communities across the state of Alabama offer so much by way of quality of life and the workforce, but it can take a little extra work to drive economic development in rural communities,” he said.
Some of the challenges that Canfield said rural communities often face include Interstate access, existing infrastructure, labor requirements and the availability of buildings.
“When we look at developing opportunities, we go into the process knowing that there may be perceptions of rural communities that companies might have,” Canfield said. “The best way to overcome potential problems is to deal with them. What we’ve found is that being strategic in planning allows us to do that. Accelerate Alabama 2.0, the next level of Accelerate Alabama, is the next level of taking a look at how we can strategically grow jobs and investment opportunities across the state, with an emphasis on rural communities.”
Canfield shared statistics of economic growth statewide, and locally for Butler County and surrounding areas.
He added that statistics from 2014 show that Butler County has seen eight projects that created 223 new and future jobs, with $63 million in new capital investments. Crenshaw County has seen three projects that created 227 new and future jobs, with a $148 million in new capital investments.
Butler County’s manufacturing and forestry industries were noted as major strengths.
“This region has great advantages,” Canfield said. “The advantage in this area has been proved time and time again. This area has a real distinct advantage of having great Interstate access that we should continue to take advantage of.
“The area’s proximity to Hyundai is a real strength as well. We expect Hyundai will continue to grow their production over time, and I think that will continue to provide great investment opportunities for companies that support Hyundai in this area’s region.”
Canfield said that the growth in this area is a testament to how effective work on a local level can be in attracting growth for employment and investment.
“My message to you is let’s keep moving and working together,” he said.