Dale Greer / Cullman Economic Development Agency
I see Cullman continuing to grow, continuing to prosper. I think we’ll be very progressive, but I think flexibility is going to be very important as we go forward.”Dale Greer, director, Cullman Economic Development Agency
CULLMAN – When Peggy Smith retired after a generation as director of the Cullman Economic Development Agency (CEDA), the task of filling her shoes fell to longtime assistant director Dale Greer. At the end of his first week on the “new” job, he sat down for a few minutes to catch his breath and talk to The Tribune about the transition.
On his predecessor
“Peggy and I have worked together 25 years now; really a great relationship. I tell people she was the one who questioned whether everything would work or not, and I think everything will work out. So we had the pessimist and the optimist; somewhere in between, we balanced everything out.
“She and I kind of made decisions together for at least the last 15 years. She’s agreed to allow me to call on her if I need help, support or information. I have that expertise to rely on.
“She’s recognized as one of the best economic developers in the Southeast, so it’s been a great opportunity to learn. Hopefully, I gleaned enough from what was there and all the people that we deal with, that we can be successful moving forward. I don’t see any reason that we can’t be.”
On dealing with the transition to the top seat at CEDA
“Here in the office, there’s a really strong staff that we’ve had for a long time. Most of them have been here for years, and do a nice job. That’s not changing for me; having a good strong staff and support team is really a positive for us.
“I’m doing the same thing I did before, kind of in the same position. It’s just that Peggy and I usually consulted on things and made decisions together. Now I don’t have that, but I’ve got the mayor and the industrial board, and a number of allies that we work with. Personally, I see us trying to strengthen those relationships and improve on those, if there’s anywhere possible. We’re working with the Chamber on their Converging for Success plan; planning is very important, even more so when you have everybody involved. With all of us working together, we’ll truly fill gaps in the community.”
“Cullman is a remarkable community. It’s been a real pleasure to work in recruiting business and industry here. Now, we’re doing a lot on the retail side, with just great growth in this community. It sells very well. All of the things here are very good: you’ve got a great education system, a good highway transportation network, a good workforce- people who are hard-working and dependable. It’s just been a great opportunity to market a really, really special community.”
On the future of area economic development
“I think where I see some changes coming, we have been one of the top manufacturing areas in Alabama for the creation of jobs and capital investment. The companies we’ve recruited have grown and prospered; I think that’s a compliment to the community.
“But we don’t have a lot of open industrial property now, and unemployment is down around 5 percent; we’re one of the lowest in Alabama every month. I don’t think we have the people available to support a large new manufacturing operation like we have in the past. I think the focus is going to be a little different, where we turn to research and development operations: smaller properties, more intellectual (than industrial).
“I see Cullman continuing to grow, continuing to prosper. I think we’ll be very progressive, but I think flexibility is going to be very important as we go forward.”
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