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Chamber Spotlight: Cooperation Important Message for State of the Community

Chamber Spotlight: Cooperation Important Message for State of the Community The Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama

At the annual Chamber in Session: State of the Community event, local officials focused on their efforts to move the community forward through collaborative efforts.

Speaking in a conversational panel style format moderated by JamisonMoneyFarmer PC’s Carl Jamison, who currently serves as the Chairman of the Chamber’s Public Affairs Council, Tuscaloosa County Probate Judge Hardy McCollum, Northport Mayor Bobby Herndon and Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox spoke on the successes that cooperation has allowed the separate entities in West Alabama to achieve.

“When it matters the most, we are there for each other,” Maddox told the more than 380 people in attendance at the Bryant Conference Center.

Jamison asked McCollum to reflect upon his forty years serving as the county’s probate judge. He said that his experience in dealing with tight budgets is allowing the county to remain in good financial state even in the midst of the downturn in the area’s coal industry.

“The reserve fund has been depleted by 40 percent,” McCollum said. “But there is still $30 million in the reserves.”

Herndon said Northport is also in sound financial shape, noting that when he took office eight years ago, the city was just weeks from bankruptcy. “Although we are currently $10 million dollars in debt, Northport has $20 million dollars in assets,” he said. “Northport needs to be run like a business.”

Maddox said there was never a better time to live in the area, whether it’s in Tuscaloosa County, the City of Tuscaloosa or the City of Northport. “I’m more excited than ever about being the mayor.”

Both Maddox and McCollum focused on transportation and infrastructure, noting that road construction will continue, including projects on Rice Mine Road, Jack Warner Parkway and James I. Harrison Parkway, among others. In addition to the infrastructure projects, Maddox said millions of dollars in paving projects are planned. “You’re going to see a lot of asphalt over the next couple of years,” he said.

McCollum credited House Bill 600, which authorized the funding for local road projects as a problem solver. “HB600 allowed us to come together to solve much needed infrastructure problems that should have been solved a long time ago,” he said.

In addressing the future, the local leaders pointed to workforce development as a crucial need. Maddox said the challenge was not having jobs, but having people ready to fill jobs. “I commend the Chamber for taking the lead on workforce development,” he said. “People around the nation are coming to look at what they’ve done. And this is not government led – it’s small business led.”

Chamber in Session: State of the Community was presented by Walker Associates, Inc. Gold Sponsors for the event were the City of Northport, Jim ‘N Nick’s BBQ and Tuscaloosa Academy. Silver Sponsors were TekLinks and Ward Scott Architecture, Inc. Bronze Sponsors were BLG Logistics, Inc., FASTSIGNS of Tuscaloosa, Hudson Poole Fine Jewelers and Perfect Shine, Inc.

Table Sponsors were Alabama One Credit Union, BankFirst, Buffalo Rock Company / Pepsi Cola, Burk-Kleinpeter, Inc., Capstone Bank, JamisonMoneyFarmer, PC, Neel-Schaffer, Inc., Robertson Banking Company, Shelton State Community College, Tuscaloosa City Board of Education, Tuscaloosa County Board of Education, Tuscaloosa Tourism & Sports Commission and Way, Ray, Shelton & Company.

Special thanks to David Pass, Sealy Furniture Company.

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