Harrison praises positive aspects

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, February 9, 2005

The Butler County Manufacturers Association (BCMA) kicked off 2005 with their first quarterly meeting held recently at the Greenville Chamber of Commerce Depot.

After a traditional southern dinner of barbecued pork with all the trimmings, catered by Deese Quail Farm of Dublin, BCMA President Dennis Palmer welcomed all those in attendance that evening.

Mayor Dexter McLendon introduced the guest speaker, John Harrison.

Harrison, former mayor of Luverne and current director of the Alabama Department of Economic and Commercial Affairs (ADECA), said he had spent the last 744 days &uot;eating and breathing ADECA.&uot;

&uot;I’ve been asked by Dexter to share thoughts on the legislative session – let me make this clear, these are my views and perceptions,&uot; Harrison told his audience.

Harrison lauded Governor Riley for his &uot;compassion and integrity&uot;, saying he had never seen the Governor when he wasn’t &uot;100 percent positive and upbeat about anything and everything about Alabama,&uot; even after the defeat of Amendment One last year.

Harrison expressed the belief the legislative session could be a truly productive one, though some compromises were likely to be in store.

&uot;Right now, education is in good shape; the Governor has fought and continues to fight to improve education in our state every bit he can.

&uot; I think there will be a fight over the fact Governor Riley wants the Education Trust Fund to pay for certain things the General Fund has been doing. He is going to have to persuade Paul Hubbard to think differently,&uot; Harrison commented.

The ADECA director also spoke of the Governor’s desire to &uot;take the politics out of roads&uot; in the state through a new Transportation Committee, and his intention to place a ban on all pass-through pork.

&uot;As you probably know, in the past ADECA was a haven for pass-through pork in the past and it is something we have really worked on eliminating.&uot;

Harrison reiterated his belief good things will likely come out of the current legislative session.

&uot;I think there are some good bills and packages on the table affecting all of us; I also know we are getting close to election time for many folks and they are not going to jeopardize their own political future,&uot; said Harrison.

And while the speaker noted Alabama’s state government recently received a grade of C minus on Governing.Com, Harrison is hopeful that mediocre score will soon rise.

&uot;Everything we are not good at, Governor Riley is addressing and trying to improve.&uot;

Harrison also shared his personal list of &uot;the things Alabama is great at&uot; with his audience.

&uot;We often receive negative attention in the news media, but there are many things we can take pride in here in our state,&uot; the ADECA director said.

Harrison’s list included the Port City of Mobile; Huntsville and its aerospace technology; The University of Alabama in Birmingham and their world-class medical technology and research facilities; the ever-expanding auto industry in the state (&uot;I foresee a time when Alabama will not only be the automotive capital of the U.S., but also the world&uot;); the state’s recreational opportunities and abundant natural resources, including the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail, its mountains and beaches; the Talladega Speedway and last, but not least, the state’s work force.

&uot;Believe me, these companies coming in here are looking for people with good attitudes and strong work ethics – and they know they will find an extremely good workforce at reasonable prices in Alabama.&uot;

While he lauded the state’s workforce, Harrison also spoke of Alabama’s leaders. &uot;We have great leadership, but they all need to be pulling in the same direction. If we could get all our leaders on the same wagon, we would see such tremendous progress in this state.&uot;

The next BCMA meeting is slated for April 28 with a tour of Hysco.