This is a special Sunday Discussion on a Monday!
I so love talking about the problems in East Alabama on the Geek Alabama blog, not! So, let’s talk about some new problems that have popped up since the last post highlighting the problems in this region. First, the Spirit of Anniston has lost their latest director. The Spirit of Anniston is a non-profit organization that strives to redevelop the downtown Anniston area and preserve the historic buildings. But the organization has gone through directors like zombies eating other zombies. The organization has been literally cannibalizing itself to death. Past leadership in Anniston has wanted to cut all funding to this organization, and I wonder if that needs to happen now?
To be honest, I was getting some money from the Spirit of Anniston for taking photos and videos from some of their events. But with this latest shakeup, I might not be getting anymore money from them, sorry mom for not being able to pay my bills. This is one of the numerous problems going on here in Anniston / Oxford. We simply can’t work together, we can’t. Cities and organizations literally fight and argue at each other until one side ceases to exist. You will see why that is bad when you continue reading this article. By the way, click the link to read a great article about the Spirit of Anniston problems from Phillip Tutor. http://www.annistonstar.com/view/full_story/24174121/article-Phillip-Tutor–No-longer-in-the-Spirit-in-Anniston?instance=opinion_right
And the latest example of people not working together happened today. Earlier, the City of Anniston decided to postpone the Christmas parade to Thursday night. The parade was postponed because of rain, when there is no rain around, I don’t get it. The problem is on Thursday night, you have Anniston, Oxford, and Jacksonville doing their Christmas parades at the exact same time! Usually, you see people from Oxford in the Anniston parade and people from Anniston in the Oxford parade, but not this year. Some parents are thrilled because they will have to race up and down Quintard Ave. to drop off one child at one parade and another child at another parade.
Why were the dates not thought out before now? You know we should not have Oxford, Anniston, and Jacksonville doing their parades at the same time on the same night. Even Pell City and Lincoln are doing their Christmas parades at the same time. This is another example of poor planning and execution in East Alabama. It’s not too late to straighten things up. Either Oxford or Anniston needs to move their Christmas parade to Friday night while the other parade is on Thursday night. If that does not happen, enjoy the cars going up and down Quintard Ave. at high speeds just to get to both parades happening at the same time, how stupid!
With all the problems going on in East Alabama, I have something else negative to add to this post. Sorry for the doom and gloom here, but I am just reporting the facts. The Milken Institute, a nonpartisan think tank, has released a report that ranks all metro areas in America for economic performance. The report measures the top 200 large and 179 smaller metros for economic growth and their ability to create and sustain jobs. They considered several components, including job, wage and salary, and technology growth. Brace for impact!
According to the Milken Institute and the list of 179 small metro areas, the Anniston / Oxford area is the second worst performing small metro area in America for 2013. Yep, I did not make that one up, click on the link or see the picture below. The only other small metro area in America that is doing worse is Pine Bluff, AR at 179. Anniston was the only small metro Alabama city to experience a negative job growth at over 100%. The one year job growth from 2011-2012 is also the 5th worse in America. The best small metro area cities in Alabama are Auburn / Opelika at 37, and Tuscaloosa at 69. Rome Georgia is at 132, Decatur is at 134, Gadsden is at 141, Muscle Shoals is at 150, Panama City is at 171 and Dothan is at 175. Dothan is in the bottom five worse small metro areas in America as well.
For the large metro areas out of 200, the best performing metro area in Alabama is Huntsville at 101. Columbus Georgia is at 110, Mobile is at 134, Birmingham / Hoover is at 179, and Montgomery is at 182. These are not good numbers! We have to be lucky that the Anniston area did not land as the worst metro area in America. And yet, I am not surprised about these results. Combine these results with the articles that ranked the Talladega/Sylacauga area as the 5th poorest area in America. Plus the article that ranked Gadsden as the 4th poorest city in America. And it’s a mega recipe for disaster.
You can also throw in the TV reality show called Bamazon that featured unemployed men from East Alabama who went to South America to mine for gold. And the New York Times article that talked about how women are now the breadwinners of the family. And you can see why East Alabama is in a bunch of trouble. No, President Obama has not caused this problem. It’s taken over 20 years for East Alabama to get to this sad point. Many jobs from textile, chicken plants, and the military have been lost. And hardly any jobs have come in to replace the lost jobs. The results are a massive amount of people who have been unemployed for years and are now collecting food stamps and disability.
A few weeks ago, the Clear Plan 2030 results were released, and the number one request from the East Alabama citizens were economic competitiveness and employment. 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 many other people.
To the leaders of every city and county in East Alabama. Quit living in denial. East Alabama is in really deep trouble. You can not continue to have the people struggling because there are no jobs available. Sure, there are several great non-profits who are helping some of the people who are struggling. But they are having a hard time keeping up because there are a record amount of people wanting to get help. There is truth to these articles that ranks East Alabama and its cities as one of the worst in America. If the leaders would concentrate on working together and recruiting new jobs so people would not have to suffer, than these bad statistics would have never happened.
And by the way, have fun everyone on Thursday night when some of you will be racing up and down Quintard Ave. and AL-21 to see the three Christmas parades. Parents are not happy about this because their kids are performing in these Christmas parades and for a few parents. One kid might be performing in the Oxford Christmas Parade while another kid might be performing in the Anniston Christmas Parade, how fun! This Christmas Parade fiasco is one of the many reasons the Anniston / Oxford area is one of the worst performing metro areas in America. The cities need to sit down and work together, or we will become the next Detroit, if we are not there already.
- Remembering Veterans Day In Anniston Alabama (geekalabama.com)
- NE Alabama / NW Georgia Christmas Parade List 2013 (geekalabama.com)
- My Only Thanksgiving Wish For 2013 (geekalabama.com)
- Nathan Young / Geek Alabama Visual Resume (geekalabama.com)