Let’s build on strong job creation numbers and continue industrial growth in 2016

Published 9:10 pm Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Numbers were recently released from the Alabama Department of Commerce that showed Dallas County had a stellar year industrial job creation and capital investment in 2015. The 2015 New and Expanding Industry Report showed local industries added 241 jobs last year and invested more than $63 million in their operations. Of Alabama’s 67 counties, Dallas County ranked 22nd in job creation and 20th in capital investment.

The county got a huge boost from Zilkha Biomass Energy; however, many existing industries expanded their presence.

Everyone working to recruit and help industry in Dallas County should be congratulated on the accomplishments of 2015, especially Wayne Vardaman and the Selma and Dallas County Economic Development Authority.

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We also thank the companies for choosing to make an investment in their operations and thereby making an investment in Dallas County.

Nearly all industrial growth comes from existing companies, and it’s encouraging to see companies like Hanil E-Hwa and PalletOne investing millions in their operations. At the height of the recession, Dallas County’s unemployment ballooned to 19 percent. Since then, it has fallen to 9 percent thanks to a lot of work and diligence.

We believe only better days are ahead. Ahead of the recession, the county’s jobless rate was about 7 percent. We can get back there again and then improve on that number even more. A key component of that will be workforce development.

It’s important that parents, teachers, school administrators, industry leaders and those in economic development continue to work to prepare our young people for jobs after high school.