Cullman Economic Development Agency wins 2 international awards for recent projects

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Cullman Economic Development Director Dale Greer (Tribune file photo)

ATLANTA – At the annual conference of the International Economic Development Council (IEDC) in Atlanta on Tuesday, the Cullman Economic Development Agency (CEDA) received gold and silver awards for two of its recent industry retention projects: “Educators in Industry” and AGCOR Steel.

IEDC describes itself as “the world's largest membership organization for economic development professionals.  Economic developers promote economic well-being and quality of life in their communities by creating, retaining, and expanding jobs that facilitate growth and provide a stable tax base.  From public to private, rural to urban, and local to international, our members represent the entire range of economic development.”

CEDA Director Dale Greer told The Tribune Tuesday afternoon, “This is an international conference.  There are a thousand people here.  Some of the award winners I saw: Canada had won an award, Hong Kong won an award.  So, it’s a pretty significant accomplishment.”

Gold Award for “Educators in Industry”

According to a press release issued by the IEDC, “Cullman Economic Development Agency received a Gold Excellence in Economic Development for its Educators in Industry, a project in the category of Human Capital of the IEDC.”

IEDC described the program: “CEDA partnered alongside local industry and education to establish Educators in Industry.  This program takes over 300 secondary-education students and educators on 14 tours of the local industrial parks, the hospital, and technical programs at Wallace State Community College (WSCC) with the hope to enlighten and expose each of the benefits these businesses and opportunities bring to the community.

“This program has numerous volunteers who help from registration to clean up.  It became our understanding that those in education can be our greatest asset to grow local workforce; however, they must first be informed and knowledgeable of the opportunities around.”

Greer said of the program, “It was really a great experience.  Three Alabama communities have already copied the program, have come and got information to see how it worked.  So that’s a compliment to all the things that went in, and we’ll do that again this coming year.  Susan (Eller, CEDA project coordinator) has started planning it again for this school year.”

Silver Award for AGCOR Steel project

According to a second IEDC release, “CEDA won a Silver Excellence in Economic Development Award for its (AGCOR) Steel Expansion/Retention Project, a project in the category of Business Retention and Expansion (BRE) Single Event of the IEDC.”

IEDC described that project: “Cullman Economic Development Agency created a unique public/private partnership to retain 26 existing jobs and create 30 more through the relocation and expansion of an existing company.  AGCOR Steel, a locally grown metal building manufacturer in Cullman, Alabama needed to expand; however, they were land locked and considering the purchase of property in the City of Good Hope in Cullman County.  AGCOR received incentive offers to relocate to other communities, including a sales tax rebate on their metal buildings sold to the public.  Both the city and county industrial boards collaboratively supported the expansion project and asked the City of Cullman, Cullman County, and the City of Good Hope to each approve a half cent sales tax rebate on increased company sales to recover the $400,000 property cost.  The rebate agreement by the three governments was capped at $400,000 or eight years (whichever came first).  This led AGCOR’s decision to expand and the City of Good Hope claiming their first industry partner.  None of the three governments had ever offered a sales tax rebate for a manufacturer, but it was allowed by Alabama law and helped to keep this industry in its hometown.”

Greer told The Tribune, “I think (AGCOR) ended up about, maybe close to a $6 million capital investment.

“So, they’re really good projects that involve a lot of people in the community that make them happen.  That’s always the case.  You know I’m one of the people that preaches that the most: that you have an economic development agency, but it’s an entire community that wins projects.”

Eller echoed Greer’s sentiments, adding, “We won the awards as a community.  This was not something we could do by ourselves, because both projects took partnerships to put them together.  And it’s been an honor to see the things that were accomplished by working together.”

From the head of the IEDC

IEDC Board Chair Craig Richard wrote, “This year our judges reviewed some extraordinary projects that advanced both communities and businesses.  We congratulate all the award winners and thank everyone who nominated their projects for sharing their success with fellow IEDC members.  What we learn from each other helps us to grow and advance as a profession.  We look forward to even greater participation from economic developers across the globe in the 2019 awards program.”

For more about the IEDC, visit iedconline.org.

For more on CEDA, visit www.cullmaneda.org.

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