Gov. Bentley visits Pike County, praises industry

Published 11:00 pm Thursday, February 13, 2014

On a night when industries and employers from around Pike County were honored, it was Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley who stole the show.

Bentley was the featured speaker at the 2014 Pike County Industry Appreciation Evening, which honored local industries such as Lockheed Martin, CGI, Southern Classic Foods and Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation.

Bentley’s speech focused on the economic decisions his administration has made over his first three years in office.

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“When I first came in to office, Alabama was having a difficult time,” Bentley said. “We had a choice to make. We could either raise taxes on the people of Alabama, or we could work to make government more efficient for the people. We chose the latter path to make government more efficient. And, so far, we’ve done that. We have saved over $1 billion annually for the state.”

Bentley said his administration’s focus has been on creating jobs for the state and training the workforce to work those jobs.

“We’ve come up with some ideas to get more skilled workers in to our workforce,” Bentley said. “It’s important that we give students in high school and two-year colleges the opportunity to go in to a skilled trade. These are not low intelligence jobs. They take intelligence and have good rewards. These jobs are important jobs.”

Alabama has had the lowest unemployment rate in the region during Bentley’s tenure.

“Our economy is improving,” Bentley said. “We have the lowest unemployment rate in the South. When I came in to office, our unemployment rate was 9.1 percent. Now we’re down to 6.1 percent. We have 58,000 more people working today than in 2011. We have announced 50,000 new jobs for the state.”

Bentley said his administration has taken note of the strength of Pike County’s economy and local leadership.

“This is a wonderful part of the state,” Bentley said. “The people here work so hard. Everything starts on the local level. The strength of the local economy comes down to what you all do. You all do a great job of selling Pike County. If you don’t sell this beautiful county with all its assets, I can’t do it. We can’t do it in Montgomery. It has to be done on the local level.”

Troy Mayor Jason Reeves said Bentley’s tenure as governor has been a blessing for the state.

“Gov. Bentley has a gift for making you think everything is going to be okay,” Reeves said. “When he first started campaigning, most people thought he was a longshot to become governor. He has proven to be a bullseye for business in this state. We appreciate everything he has done for business.”

Marsha Gaylard, President of the Pike County Economic Development Corporation, said the county was honored to have Bentley as its guest.

“We felt honored that the governor took the time to appreciate local industry,” Gaylard said. “This event is so important to our county because our industries are so important to our economy. All of our different industries keep our economy in great shape, and I think we need to all take the opportunity to say thank you to them.”