Sunday Discussion: Why East Alabama Is In Deep Trouble


Geek Alabama Discussion

This is one of those posts I wished I never had to write.  But lately I have read stories and watched news coverage of all the jobs that are being cut in East Alabama.  And now I have no choice but to talk about it.  East Alabama has relied on textile mills and the military for a long time.  In the last 20 years many of the textile mills have closed down and their jobs have been shipped off to Central America or overseas.  The military has also been a big influence in jobs and the economy.  But in the last 20 years Fort McClellan has closed down and the Anniston Army Depot is in danger of closing next.  Basically, East Alabama is in deep trouble!

The East Alabama counties of DeKalb, Etowah, Cherokee, Calhoun, Cleburne, Talladega, Clay, Randolph, Chambers, Tallapoosa, and Coosa has seen numerous job losses in the past 20 years.  Several industries and businesses have closed down resulting in job losses.  Just in the past 30 days since 2013 began.  Several major businesses in East Alabama have announced they will be laying off.

  • General Dynamics will be laying off 140 around March.
  • K-Mart in Anniston will close in March.
  • Russell Brands will be laying off 190 around March.
  • Anniston Army Depot might be laying off hundreds in March.

These recent layoff announcements are a continuing problem in East Alabama.  From places like Alexander City where much of the 10,000 jobs from Russell have disappeared and businesses such as Robinson Iron have closed.  To Anniston where Fort McClellan shut down resulting in many job losses and now the Anniston Army Depot is cutting jobs.  And even to Fort Payne where they used to be known as the sock capital of the world, until all those jobs were cut for good.  East Alabama has been stuck in this pattern of job losses while other cities in Alabama such as Mobile, Auburn, Muscle Shoals, Tuscaloosa are announcing many new jobs and businesses.

Bamazon

You know East Alabama is in deep trouble when there is a television show on History Channel called Bamazon.  The show is about Tim Evans and a group of unemployed construction workers from Tallapoosa County who goes to the Amazon jungle in the South American country of Guyana to mine for gold.  If East Alabama was not losing jobs left and right, there would be no need to do all of this work to find some gold.  And there would be no Bamazon on History Channel.  I have enjoyed this show and I hope there is a season 2.  The season finale airs on January 27th at 10/9 central on History Channel.

I know someone is going to bring up this point.  Sure, Oxford and Gadsden has attracted retail stores and restaurants.  But the problem with this is these jobs are low-paying.  I am sure the people with these jobs are happy they have something to do.  But with the low pay, these people are often still in poverty and have to rely on Food Stamps to get by.  This  is not a way to grow the East Alabama region.  Where are the good paying jobs, other than the Honda plant in Lincoln?  One of these retail stores is about to close.  The K-mart in Anniston is closing down and I overheard some employees talking about how disappointed they are that the K-mart is closing.  This is a big problem, there are many disappointed people in East Alabama.  Here are some pictures.

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My next point is to the leaders in East Alabama.  What are the mayors, city councilmen  county commissioners, and legislators doing to help grow the East Alabama region?  It seems like these leaders are sitting back and doing nothing while the average people suffer.  I have talked to many people in East Alabama and some have told me they are starving and at times they are living at homes with no electricity and running water.  How do you live like that?  Our leaders needs to be doing a better job attracting jobs and businesses into East Alabama instead of watching them go to other places.

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In my opinion, the Alabama legislature is the worst in the nation, and has been for years. The citizens pay them to do the hard work, and instead they go to Montgomery and piddle away work time in aimless arguments about the fine points of The Ten Commandments, school prayer, gun control, abortion, and such.  For Goodness Sake, the state sucks by almost any measure except football.  The citizens should be outraged that the legislature is not spending every working hour on jobs, poverty, education, health, commerce and tourism.  Montgomery instead loves to chew the fat, and create controversies designed to make it appear that they are doing their jobs, when in fact they are just languishing, waiting for a handout.  This does not help the East Alabama region.

As for me Nathan Young, I have looked for a job in the East Alabama region for 19 months now.  I have filled out close to 200 applications now and nothing has happened.  It just feels like the East Alabama region is slowly dying way for good, and sorry, it’s not Obama’s fault!  I know someone who has a master’s degree in I.T. and has been unemployed for three years!  So on Monday, I will be doing something crazy.  Me and a friend will be walking up and down Quintard Ave. in Anniston wearing these signs.

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On the back, the signs will say “Looking for Work.”  On the front, one sign will say “Masters Degree in I.T. Can’t Find Work!  Borrowing Money to Survive!”  The other sign will say “I Voted for Obama, and Have A Disability.  I Want to Earn A Living!”  On Monday Night, I will be at the Norwood-Hodges Community Center where the Anniston mayor and city council is holding a listening tour.  Most likely I will be in the news, stay tuned!

I wish the cities, counties, businesses, and chamber of commerce’s would join up and create a campaign to attract companies and jobs to East Alabama.  Other states are already doing TV and online campaigns to show the world what that state has to offer.  The state of New York is doing a campaign called Big Happens Here.  They do an extensive online and TV campaign to attract businesses and people.

Also, the state of Wisconsin runs the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation.  Their mission is to attract businesses and jobs to the state.

East Alabama has so many things to offer but I feel like it’s being passed up by our public officials.  We have great lakes, rivers, mountains, waterfalls, small businesses, cities, events, outdoor opportunities, charities, people, and much more!  I feel like we need to do a better job promoting the assets of East and Northeast Alabama to potential businesses and employers.  If we don’t do that, East and Northeast Alabama will become the next Detroit.   Old, rundown, and dead!

 

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