Economic Development Evolves But Grows in Shelby County

The term “Economic Development” is something that is in the eye of the beholder depending on where you live.  In some communities this means a growth of manufacturing jobs, while in others it is a sign of growing retail choices for consumers.  In reality it is dictated by the needs of the community.

Over the last 15 years I have had the opportunity to work with the City of Alabaster on economic development projects ranging from retail development to industrial distribution centers.  While the business of economic development has evolved it has also grown tremendously in our entire regional community. With the lowest unemployment rate in the state, Shelby County has seen its economy evolve in such a way that allows to it be creative in our recruitment strategies. A good economy is one that does not rely solely on one sector or another but instead strikes a balance. 

As we have worked hard to develop retail development such as the shopping centers on interstate 65, there has also been a strong emphasis on recruiting office space development and industrial distribution centers.  While retail developments like Dunkin Donuts, hotels, and chain restaurants provide instant gratification for consumers, long-term economic growth must also include a support for existing business and an emphasis on jobs oriented industries. 

By using data driven models and modern technology, Alabaster has developed online tools to promote existing businesses as well as offer a window to the outside world about the economic benefits of doing business in our community. Whether it is an interactive web site designed to provide developers with the most up to date information about our community, a QR code system on employee business cards or an active social media advertising campaign, the world of economic development has changed for the good.

In the end, a good economic development strategy still depends on the quality of the local officials involved in this effort. It is teamwork that requires a conscience effort of cooperation among man levels of government. In the next several months as new retail and commercial businesses announce they are opening in our community we should always remember that the ability to development new strategies while maintaining good local leadership is the key to continuing strong economic development in our local community.

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