This week, the Clear Plan 2030 Capstone Presentation Report was released. This report highlights goals and objectives in economic competitiveness, education, health, transportation, housing, and community engagement. Although the entire report was very interesting to read, I am going to highlight on economic competitiveness and employment. Which is the most pressing need in East Alabama.
On the survey results, the highest rankings by the survey takers were employment opportunities and quality education. I can see why most people talked about these two topics the most. Tens of thousands of jobs have disappeared in East Alabama over the last 20 years. From Russell leaving Alexander City, mills closing down in Gadsden, to Fort McClellan closing down in Anniston. East Alabama is struggling big time. Things don’t get better when national articles ranked Talladega /Sylacauga as the 5th poorest region in America and Gadsden was ranked the 4th poorest city in America. Even today, Pilgrim’s Pride in Boaz announced they would close down in January. The job situation is not getting better in East Alabama.
Some people in East Alabama have simply given up and just collect food stamps or disability. For some people, they have to drive long distances to just get to a job. The job situation is that bad in East Alabama. If the job situation can improve and good high paying jobs comes to East Alabama, other things will improve like health, transportation, education, and much more. It’s because people will have the money necessary to eat better, spend money at local businesses, spend money on their kids to improve their learning, etc.
So here are the seven goals to improve economic competitiveness and employment in East Alabama.
- Align needed skills with jobs
- Increase the number of people prepared for high wage, high growth jobs
- Provide training and job opportunities to enhance human capital
- Support existing businesses and spur local entrepreneurship
- Capitalize on existing downtown areas
- Assist in the development of physical infrastructure and facilities
- Develop and conserve the region’s natural resources by utilizing land use and growth management policies
In these goals, some of the objectives that stuck out with me were:
- Develop effective joint efforts between industry and education
- Align education and training programs with actual needs
- Market and promote the region to national and international industries
- Increase awareness of career opportunities in local high growth sectors
- Enhance and increase educational and training opportunities
- Identify and connect special populations to employment and training opportunities
- Assist training providers and employers in accommodating special populations
- Develop a marketing brand for the CLEAR Region
- Develop a strategy to enhance the tourism industry
- Coordinate efforts to retain existing businesses and industries
- Create a business incubator to provide resources to support entrepreneurs
- Develop a marketing plan to accentuate downtown areas
- Establish and promote social, recreational, cultural, and commercial activities downtown
- Identify and seek funding sources to improve existing industrial and commercial sites and provide adequate community facilities and services
- Repurpose or remediate existing properties
- Insure a safe, efficient and economic transportation system
- Utilize or demolish abandoned industrial and commercial sites
- Protect and preserve valuable environmental and historic resources
- Promote the efficient use of energy
In my opinion, if you want to improve education, health, transportation, housing, and community engagement in East Alabama, you must improve the employment situation. Every city in East Alabama already has the infrastructure ready to recruit industry and other good paying jobs. It’s just something needs to be done to tell the world about East Alabama.
So I think one of the top things East Alabama can do to attract new high paying jobs, so many other things can improve, is to start a campaign to highlight the good things in East Alabama. This can be done! I would start an online campaign which would involve a website, social media accounts, and a YouTube page that shows the good in East Alabama. Yes, this is already being done in other parts of the country. The Empire State Development does a video campaign showing people why you should start your business in New York. Here’s one of their videos.
This campaign would not only promote the industries already here. It would promote the small businesses, special people, the parks, the outdoor adventures, and much more! Videos could be put up on YouTube to show off these great features that would be seen by anyone around the world. Plus the website would promote stories, pictures, and other things that would highlight East Alabama. Something like this is badly needed, because this region has gotten bashed by lots of other organizations.
I hope something is done to move East Alabama forward. I might not be here to see it because I have been unemployed for 28 months and looking at moving to just find a job, like many other people as well. I believe East Alabama can come back, but it’s going to take funding and hard work to make it happen!
To read the entire Clear Plan 2030 Capstone Presentation Report go to: http://www.clearplan2030.org/uploadedFiles/File/CAPSTONE_Presentation
- Sunday Discussion: East Alabama The 5th Poorest Area In America (geekalabama.com)
- Gov. Robert Bentley hopes trade trip to Japan brings research jobs to Alabama (al.com)
- Remembering Veterans Day In Anniston Alabama (geekalabama.com)
- Nathan Young / Geek Alabama Visual Resume (geekalabama.com)