Jobs tour an economic development dry run

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 14, 2002

Messenger Publisher

Troy was the seventh of eight scheduled stops on Gov. Don Siegelman’s aptly named "jobs tour." And on Monday, the highly publicized economic development dry run gave local leaders a chance to put their best foot forward.

"The purpose of this jobs tour is to work with communities to make sure we’re putting our best foot forward," the governor said. "The people of this community have done a great job of putting Troy’s best foot forward."

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Of course, more than a little planning went into the process, and state leaders were quick to recognize that. Nexton Marshall Jr., projected manager with the Alabama Development Office and director of the Center for Economic Growth, is among those.

In evaluating the presentation, Marshall commended efforts from capitalizing on state and federal grant money to revitalizing downtown.

"I don’t know if somebody has been doing some extra work down there," he said of the Square. "But I couldn’t even find a bubble gum wrapper."

Admitting that the community had a chance to spruce up before the mock site visit, Marshall said many other aspects of the presentation indicated a solid preparation. "All these things are a result of good vision and good planning," he said. "You have a pro-business attitude and you know what makes this place a desirable place to live.

"…Had I been doing a report card this morning, I have to say you’d pass with very good marks."

The high praise came as no surprise to state Rep. Alan Boothe, D-Troy, who took part in the presentation. "The folks here are good," he said of the economic development presentation. "They know how to do this."

As for Troy and Pike County’s chances of becoming a site for a tier-one supplier to Hyundai’s $1 billion manufacturing plant in Hope Hull, Boothe is optimistic.

"I think we’re in perfect shape," he said. "We’ve got the raw materials, the workforce … and one of the biggest advantages is Troy State University and its development of a multi-cultural center."

And, although Troy is admittedly on the "hinge" of the 50-mile radius cited by Hyundai for its suppliers, Boothe believes Troy will remain a top candidate because of its access through U.S. 231 and the other strengths it presents.

"I think we would be considered priority one," he said.