Another industry

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, March 11, 2003

Covington County, we are sitting on the verge of something very big. Something that holds the potential to turn around the very nature of the economy in our beloved county.

We are not talking about one industry in particular, but the myriad of already committed and potential industries yet to be fully developed in the county.

Take for instance the recent addition of Helipro. An aviation industry. No one ever imagined a world-class aviation facility would be located at our own Andalusia-Opp Airport - but it has happened.

Service Zone is another example of a non-traditional industry locating in Covington County.

This high-tech, computer-based industry handles technical support for millions of callers. Again, no one ever imagined an industry in the technology sector located here.

Then again, take a look at other industries that have been here for years.

Dozens of people worked tirelessly behind the scenes to secure a major employer's ability to maintain its presence in Covington County.

And now, it's time we start to work on developing the potential industries.

If we look around the county and ask ourselves - "What do we like most about Covington County?" - a large percentage would say the natural beauty that surrounds us.

Covington County's natural wonders hold the key to a large percentage of our economic future.

A story in Tuesday's Star-News told us about the desire of a group of people - The Alabama Hiking Trail Society - to develop a trail from the Florida Trail to the Pinhoti Trail in East Central Alabama. This trail would link to the world famous Appalachian Trail and Eastern Continental Trail, brining the potential for hundreds of hikers to our county each year. And those hikers would each bring dollars to spend in our communities.

But it's not just those hikers that would bring money. It's the "weekend warriors" camping in our forests and swimming in our rivers, lakes and streams who will be spending money as well.

Our natural wonders can also bring in tourists with birding. Birding is currently the largest tourist-related attraction in the United States. Covington County has an abundance of rare birds, plants and animals - some found only in our forests and streams.

Yes, tourism is a way for Covington County to develop industry. It's clean and benefits all.

Yes, Covington County, we need other industries. We need to keep seeking the traditional industries.

In the near future, we can expect major announcements on new businesses locating within our borders. We can also anticipate that our local economic leaders are continuing their daily job of working to attract new industries to our area.

We just need to be patient and cooperative. When we all work together, much can be accomplished and we can continue to build on a county we are all proud.