Jim Searcy, executive director of the Economic Development Association of Alabama, addresses guests at the Chilton County Chamber of Commerce luncheon Tuesday afternoon.
Jim Searcy, executive director of the Economic Development Association of Alabama, addresses guests at the Chilton County Chamber of Commerce luncheon Tuesday afternoon.

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Speaker talks about countywide economic development

Published 4:02pm Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The process of economic development and its status in Chilton County were topics of Jim Searcy’s speech at the Chilton County Chamber of Commerce’s luncheon Tuesday.

As the new executive director of the Economic Development Association of Alabama, Searcy said his organization’s mission is to educate and impact economic development in the state through professional development, legislative and government affairs and member services.

“Everybody has some interest in economic development,” Searcy said.

He provided key elements in the overall process of developing an area’s economy, including location of community, product of community, workforce, incentives and quality of life.

“It’s got to be a team,” Searcy said. “Everybody’s got to see the incentives of working together.”

Searcy shed light on some of Chilton’s economic advantages, such as good quality of life for residents, and challenges compared to other places in Alabama and surrounding states.

He said the county’s geographic location in the center of the state helps with commerce, but lack of a primary industrial park puts Chilton behind places like Cullman, Prattville, Greenville and Lowndes.

In addition to forming an industrial park, Searcy noted reopening a hospital would also boost the county’s economy since healthcare is among the top selling points of an area with current and future residents, businesses and industry.

“Those are things that are really going to set you apart,” he said.

He also commended the Chilton County Airport for its infrastructure improvement projects for a new runway lighting system, resurfaced runway, 10-plane hangar installation and 4,000-foot runway extension.

“I think y’all are definitely going in the right direction,” Searcy said. “The future is pretty bright.”

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