Teamwork is the key to industry

Published 12:00 am Monday, November 3, 2003

A very interesting conference was held this week in Atlanta. A conference where municipalities went to pitch their best to the International Council of Shopping Centers' during its Southeastern convention.

What's so interesting about that?

Quite simply the fact that many municipalities from the Birmingham area were in attendance competing against each other for the privilege of being home to a new shopping center.

That may not sound like much, but we you consider that fact that some municipalities have committed up to $10 million in incentives for a single store to locate there.

Why? Is it worth the trouble to land a new department store?

The answer is a resounding "Yes." At least in many respects.

Why do we care? We care because we're not competing with the Birmingham-Hoover Metropolitan Statistical Area for shops, industry or "other."

We are, however, as a county, working hard to attract to business to Covington County.

But we're working together. And that's the key for cities like Andalusia, Opp, Red Level and Florala - teamwork.

State law forbids the payment of funds to potential businesses, but it does allow for the offering of incentives to try and attract those same businesses.

In Birmingham, where there are now officially more than 1 million people in the MSA, maybe municipalities do have to compete with each other. Or they just view it that way.

What's good for Alabaster may not be good for Gardendale. At least that's the impression we get.

In Covington County, we realize that what's good for Andalusia is good for Opp. What's good for Opp is good for Andalusia. We understand teamwork must accompany those incentives.

According to Andalusia Mayor Earl Johnson, there are fewer industrial jobs available in America, and the business world is turning more to service-oriented jobs. To that effect, the city, along with the county, and other municipalities work together through the Covington County Economic Development Commission to attract potential businesses to our area. But they don't do it alone. Private banks, other employers and private individuals all work together to do what's best for the economy in Covington County.

Counted among their successes - Service Zone. A prime example of how teamwork can attract a business looking to expand to more than 600 jobs.

Yes, we have to wonder what those people in the "big city" are thinking competing against each other, when they should be working together.

We can offer incentives just as good as Birmingham, but with our incentives we also offer the teamwork to make sure that we don't lose sight of what's really important. And that's providing jobs for all of Covington County.