Black Belt not being lifted from the rising tide around the statePublished 9:53pm Tuesday, March 19, 2013
When Gov. Robert Bentley announced and touted the state’s newest numbers for unemployment, where did he make this announcement?
Was he standing on the steps of the state capital in Montgomery or on a bridge in Mobile Bay? Was he in a swanky Birmingham country club?
We know one thing to be certain — he did not make the announcement from the Edmund Pettus Bridge or anywhere near the Black Belt, the region with the highest unemployment numbers in the state; numbers nowhere near that of the state average. In fact, the unemployment rate for Dallas County, 13.9 percent is more than double that of the state average of 6.9.
When state dignitaries like Bentley and State Labor Commissioner Tom Surtees, make key industrial announcements these days, they do so in cities like Huntsville, Auburn, Tuscaloosa and Mobile, but rarely do they come to Alabama’s Black Belt. Why is that?
In the New and Expanding Industry Announcements 2012 report, released Tuesday in Montgomery, Dallas County was one of the shining examples in Alabama, with two new industries announced in 2012 and two industries announcing key expansions.
The new industries, Eovations LLC and Zilkha Biomass, are projected to generate 150 new jobs and register an investment in Dallas County of an estimated $42 million.
The two companies who announced expansions in 2012, HL-A Company and Rayco, project 46 new employees and a $1.1 million investment.
These is great and much-needed news for our area, but it feels we are getting the blind eye from key economic leaders in our state.
We too celebrate the overall declining unemployment rate in Alabama. But, in this case, a rising tide does not lift all ships.
The successes in Lee County, Madison County and Mobile County rarely have an impact on those in our hometowns who are looking for work. In fact, in some cases it hurts our economy as people — unable to find work here — move, taking their families where jobs are being created.
We learned such migration of families has hurt the Dallas County School System, which is seriously considering closing another elementary school.
While we call on our state leaders to do more, we also take time to thank our local economic leaders and development officials for their tireless efforts in bringing to the Black Belt the jobs they have.
While the state unveiled a new marketing motto Tuesday — Made in Alabama — it’d be nice to know that motto didn’t just apply to the population and voting centers of Mobile, Auburn, Tuscaloosa, Birmingham and Huntsville.