Wade speaks at Rotary Club

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 11, 2003

The director of the Alabama Development Office spoke to the Brundidge Rotary Club Wednesday, and he told the group good things were on the way for Alabama.

Neal Wade, who for nine years served as president and CEO of the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama, said Alabama's job market looked solid thanks to a commitment to economic development. Wade was a central driving force behind bringing the Mercedes-Benz plant to Alabama in the early 1990s.

The state has since seen two more auto manufacturers come, but Wade said the future was in home growth of business.

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"In baseball, you can go to the World Series one of two ways. You can cultivate your talent in your own system, or you can hire Barry Bonds and Sammy Sosa to come in and help you win," Wade said. "Alabama made the decision in the 1990s to go to the World Series. "The move to bring Mercedes here changed the perception of Alabama internationally. Now Alabama is viewed as a place for industry."

Now, though, the emphasis needs to be placed on developing state-owned business and making necessary adjustments in government to help cultivate that business.

"Eighty percent of a state's growth is from within," Wade said. "There should be many opportunities for Alabama businesses to grow."

Wade also stressed diversification of industry. He cited the demise of the Alabama textile business among others as indications that the automotive industry is not a guaranteed future.

The rest of Wade's comments were devoted to explaining Gov. Bob Riley's tax plan.

"The people of Alabama have come to expect poor fiscal responsibility from Montgomery," he said. "I understand that the people of Alabama will ask why they should have to give more money just to watch it go down the toilet. That is a legitimate concern, and it is our job over the next few months to show the people exactly what we will do with the money."