THE YEAR AHEAD: Jemison hopes to attract new business

Published 4:30 pm Tuesday, January 14, 2014

As a number of families continue moving into the city of Jemison, one of Mayor Eddie Reed’s goals for 2014 is accommodating the growth by attracting businesses to come to the city.

“We are growing,” Reed said. “More people are moving to this area and part of accommodating that growth is offering things to the residents who live here.”

Reed said the city is in the process of establishing an economic development board that will focus on bringing businesses to the area.

“We want to bring more small shopping areas to offer our citizens the opportunity to keep the tax dollars in our county as opposed to going to Shelby County,” Reed said. “We are a bedroom community but we would like to bring more businesses that the people in this city could use and benefit from. We would also like to have small manufacturing companies come as well.”

In 2013, the city voted to approve outdoor advertising for the city on a billboard along Interstate 65.

The idea of the billboard on the southbound portion along I-65 was to promote the city of Jemison.

“Letting small businesses know that we are open and we want people to come to our city has been a good thing for us,” Reed said. “We want to help our citizens find the convenience to shop locally and have others get excited about relocating to this area.”

Reed said he hopes 2014 will be a year for economic growth in Jemison after the last two years for the city were spent trying to stabilize the city’s budget.

“We were able to present a balanced budget for the 2013-2014 fiscal year and the budget was designed so that we will have a surplus to save more than we have had in the past,” Reed said.

A benefit for Jemison in 2013 was participating in a six-month “Shop Local” campaign the Chilton County Chamber of Commerce launched in July.

The purpose of the campaign was to encourage Chilton County residents to spend their money at local businesses and keep much-needed tax dollars in the county for community enhancement projects.

Shop Local billboards were placed in Thorsby, Jemison, Clanton and Maplesville and Reed said he saw an encouraging response from residents in Jemison.

“We saw a difference from people who were trying to buy products from businesses in this county,” Reed said. “It was a great thing for our city. In order to have the ability to have good parks, paved streets, good police protection, we pay for that through sales tax which comes from businesses. If we don’t have people shopping at those businesses, then we don’t have the money to meet people’s expectations.”

Reed said he is thankful for a police department that focuses on reducing the amount of crime throughout the city that could help in attracting new businesses to the area.

“If you come to Jemison to do a crime, you will be apprehended. Our officers will find you and you will be prosecuted,” Reed said. “Our city is a safer place because we have police officers who work to bring the crime down.”

Another positive benefit for the city that Reed hopes will continue growing in 2014 is the emergency transport system through the Jemison Fire Department.

“Chief John Dennis has helped make transport and reaching the needs of the people in case of an emergency a very encouraging thing for Jemison,” Reed said.

Jemison is the first city in Chilton County to provide response to 911 calls from a city-owned ambulance purchased in 2008.

Although the transport system has been a success throughout the community, Reed said not having a hospital in the county has been a struggle.

“Not having a hospital in this county can be a deterrent to people who are looking to live here or start a business here,” Reed said. “Our citizens need medical services provided to them. We have good doctors throughout the county, we just need a place for them to serve. That is a challenge for our county right now as we look ahead.”

Reed said he would like to see representatives from each municipality in Chilton County, including the Chilton County Commission and Chilton County Board of Education, come together for quarterly meetings to discuss the future of Chilton County.

“I think if we could meet and come together to get all our heads together to look at the needs of our county then we can make our county a county we all can be proud of,” Reed said. “We have a lot of bright hope for our city and this county and I am excited at the things we will accomplish this upcoming year.”