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Chamber luncheon focuses on economic growth

Special guests: Chilton County Commission Chairman Allen Caton (far left) and Jim Searcy (fourth from left) with the Economic Development Association of Alabama were guest speakers at the Chilton County Chamber of Commerce’s luncheon on Tuesday. Caton and Searcy are pictured with Connie Bainbridge with Central Alabama Electric Cooperative, Chamber Director Janice Hull and Chamber Board of Directors President Stephen Dawkins. (Contributed photo)

Special guests: Chilton County Commission Chairman Allen Caton (far left) and Jim Searcy (fourth from left) with the Economic Development Association of Alabama were guest speakers at the Chilton County Chamber of Commerce’s luncheon on Tuesday. Caton and Searcy are pictured with Connie Bainbridge with Central Alabama Electric Cooperative, Chamber Director Janice Hull and Chamber Board of Directors President Stephen Dawkins. (Photo by David Dyson)

Economic development was the primary topic at Tuesday’s Chilton County Chamber of Commerce luncheon.

Chilton County Commission Chairman Allen Caton was the first guest speaker at the event, which was held at Clanton First United Methodist Church.

Caton updated those in attendance on the commission’s plans for the year, including making sure the county stays within its budget.

“We have to pass a balanced budget, and that’s what we’ve done,” Caton said.

The commission chairman also mentioned upcoming road and bridge projects.

“There are a lot of exciting things going on, and the main thing is we’ve got our hospital coming,” Caton said.

The under-construction St. Vincent’s Chilton will surely be an economic catalyst for the county, and officials hope a planned industrial park near Interstate 65 Exit 212 will also spur growth.

The property was purchased jointly by the county and city of Clanton.

Jim Searcy with the Economic Development Association of Alabama, also spoke at the luncheon and was introduced by Connie Bainbridge with the Central Alabama Electric Cooperative.

Searcy said the county should see dividends from the industrial park.

“You all are well-positioned as we continue to recruit these (automotive) suppliers,” Searcy said.

A potential site for industrial development must offer a “developed product,” Searcy said, explaining the importance of water and sewer service as well as educated, skilled workers.

Planning for growth is essential in the current economy, Searcy said, adding that the new industrial park “checks off all the boxes we want.”

“I commend you for working together,” he said.

Announcements included that a Business After Hours will be held from 5:30-7 p.m. March 10 at BB&T.

The next Chamber luncheon will be at noon on April 5 at CFUMC. Mission Serve, a non-profit organization that will bring a group of young people into Chilton County to work on housing improvements for targeted families, will be highlighted at the luncheon.