COLUMN: Teamwork is often a key to success

Published 12:30 pm Friday, March 29, 2024

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When we think of teamwork, the first image that may come to mind is that of a sports team working together to overcome the challenges presented by an opponent. But, the vast majority of us are members of a team and we experience teamwork every day. Whether at work, church, or even within our own families, teamwork is a necessity to make things happen.

Earlier this year, Covington County experienced the success that comes from working together as a team when Conecuh Sausage announced its plan to build a new production facility in Andalusia, bringing 110 new jobs to the area. Anyone who spoke about this project shared the same message that it would not have happened with multiple groups working together to overcome obstacles and find solutions.

While it seems to make sense that Conecuh Sausage would locate close to its home base in Conecuh County, that was not necessarily the case. Apparently, a site in Oklahoma was among the frontrunners at one point. But, local officials worked together to find a way to bring the plant — and the jobs it will create — home to South Alabama.

One key to landing the facility was work done years ago. Andalusia Mayor Earl Johnson said Andalusia prepared itself years ago through development of its industrial park that provided Conecuh Sausage with shovel-ready property.

With the seeds sown by preparing for the future many years ago, elected officials with the city and county — both past and present — played a key role. Just like in sports, a team has to lay a foundation by doing the fundamentals of preparation. Our local officials did that and should be commended.

When the call came, Covington County’s team was ready and sprang into action. The City of Andalusia, City of Opp, Covington County Commission, the Andalusia Industrial Development Board, Andalusia Utilities Board, and the Covington County Economic Development Commission team of Rick Clifton and Jacob Morgan proved ready to close the deal and seal a victory for our area. They worked together to meet the needs of the prospect and leave little reason for Conecuh Sausage to take their business elsewhere.

Even the state played a role. Through the Game Plan economic development initiative touted by Governor Kay Ivey, the state provides incentives that allow officials to recruit and keep companies and jobs in Alabama.

The Alabama Department of Commerce worked with the Covington County Economic Development Commission to provide the state incentives to keep Conecuh Sausage here at home. The ground breaking ceremony was the first such event for Ellen McNair, who was named the state’s Commerce Secretary at the beginning of the year.

It’s not always easy being part of a team and our local officials have been praised and even described as something of a rarity in such endeavors. Fortunately, our local team put egos and differences aside to score a big win for the residents of Covington County.

 — Robert Blankenship has served as the Editor and Publisher of the Star-News since 2020. He can be contacted at