Dale Greer, director of the Cullman Economic Development Agency, asked County Economic Development Director Cherrie Haney to join him as he talked about their accomplishments. / W.C. Mann
CULLMAN – On Thursday evening, the Cullman Area Chamber of Commerce hosted its annual Industry Appreciation Reception at Terri Pines Country Club, offering a very positive view of the partnership between local government and educational entities and various industries and businesses.
Cullman Area Chamber of Commerce President Leah Bolin told all of the industry representatives present, “On behalf of our whole Chamber membership and our board of directors, I want to express our sincere gratitude and thanks to each of you for the roles that you play daily in providing jobs and a great quality of life for our citizens.”
Bolin went on to talk about the Chamber’s community development initiative intended to attract and retain a skilled area workforce, pointing out specific programs working toward that goal:
-Housing Task Force – making sure that the area’s population and workforce have adequate and interesting places to live
-Business Development – making sure the area has a good number and diverse range of businesses
-“Think Local” campaign – promoting local jobs and local liveability
-Internship programs – in the works, to develop local workforce pipelines for the industry, retail and medical sectors
-Seminars and workshops – for both large and small businesses, to help with issues in human resources, management skills and new tax structures
-Entrepreneurship and Education Initiative – helping young people learn how to start businesses or get into the workforce through the Young Entrepreneurs’ Academy, Youth Leadership Program, Career Awareness -Fair and Emerging Professionals Impacting Cullman
-Advocacy Initiative – working toward an industry-friendly local environment by pushing for infrastructure development and other moves at the governmental level, and developing local broadband access
“Our goal at the end of the day,” concluded Bolin, “is to take Cullman further than it’s ever been. And as the Chamber continues to promote our area, we look for new ways to benefit you, our industry partners.”
Wallace State Community College (WSCC) Dean of Applied Technologies Jimmy Hodges shared points of interest related to educational programs geared toward workforce development:
-Fast Track for Industry – a joint venture between WSCC and the county school system that allows high school students to work toward, and in many cases even complete, associate degrees in applied technology while still in high school
-New manufacturing skills credentials – including Certified Production Technician, Certified Logistics Technician, Precision Measuring Certificate and Torque Certificate
-Workforce training solutions – including corporate and community education, and continuing education events
-Apprenticeships and internships – Hodges pointed out that WSCC students are in high demand, and that there are places available for every student interested in hands-on learning opportunities.
Cullman Economic Development Agency Director Dale Greer asked Cullman County Economic Development Director Cherrie Haney to join him at the podium as he talked, to emphasize their agencies’ cooperative partnership in the area’s successes. Greer pointed out 2017 area industrial accomplishments, including:
-$103,998,483 in capital investment
-415 new jobs
-34 total projects, with 33 of those being expansions of existing industries
-A 10-year (2008-2017) total industrial growth of $1,017,477,505 capital expenditure and 5,462 jobs
He also noted several community accomplishments that positively impact local business and industry:
-Cullman is the top-ranked micropolitan (small city) in the nation for economic growth
-The area has the second lowest unemployment rate in the state, at 2.8 percent
-Sales tax revenues up 7.1 percent
-Cullman was ranked among the top 20 safest communities in Alabama
-Cullman has the top ranked parks and recreation program in Alabama
-Strong retail and restaurant growth
Chamber Chair Jason Spann concluded the evening’s program by recognizing Royal Technologies Corporation, American Proteins Inc., Reliance Worldwide Corporation and Louisiana Pacific Corporation for their participation in the Chamber’s 2017 Industry Tour.
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