Black Belt not being lifted from the rising tide around the state

Published 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.

  • MO-OF-IT

    Plenty of work out there for those who want it…

    Problem is the government keeps folk on the plantation by
    rewarding poor behavior.

    Sad that politicians use this ploy to keep themselves in
    power and plush with funds

    Only term limits will solve this problem and put government
    back to for the people and by the people.

  • popdukes12

    What made Selma great in the 19th century was the Alabama river and “King cotton”. The Alabama river isn’t the required infrastructure of the 21st century, and king cotton was replaced with pine trees and the welfare industry (Selma’s largest income producer). I have to agree with MO-OF-IT that Selma needs to align it’s voting power with the rest of the state, but, if this were done for local benefits, individuals would be cutting their own throats concerning Federal handouts. The majority voting power in Selma is caught in the middle. Selma has minority position state representation, a minority position Federal congresswoman, and minority position Federal senators. So, don’t expect local help. From a purely selfish standpoint, the majority of voters in Selma and Dallas County cast their lot with the Federal government in order to keeps the welfare coming, as they don’t have the infrastructure (interstate highway) to use as a vehicle to break out of poverty. Almost 75% of the state population live within 20 miles of an interstate. The Black Belt (Dallas County) doesn’t. pops

  • MO-OF-IT

    Perhaps we need to have the good sense then to elect
    politicians who are better aligned with the administration rather than just
    writing editorials about what a bad job they are doing….. I certainly don’t believe that neither Melton
    nor Sanders had one thing to do with any of the above. Perhaps we should thank the republicans rather than bash on them.

    I mean realty why the hell should they come here when they have no votes. Let’s try to get in lock step
    with civilization rather than marching across the bridge only to turn around at the bottom and walk back for more beatings.

    Alabama is a dark red state and will be for generations.

    Keep Hope Alive

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