Cullman Chamber welcomes ADECA Director Kenneth Boswell to community luncheon

DSC_0426: ADECA Director Kenneth Boswell (left) accepts a gift from Cullman Area Chamber of Commerce Interim President Peggy Smith (right) at Friday’s Community Luncheon. (Maggie Darnell for the Cullman Tribune)

CULLMAN, Ala. – The Cullman Area Chamber of Commerce on Friday welcomed Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs (ADECA) Director Kenneth Boswell as the special guest speaker for its monthly community luncheon.

Boswell had high praise for the community, saying, “This is the biggest smallest town north of Montgomery I think I’ve ever been in. And I will tell you that it is one of the friendliest towns north of Montgomery that I’ve been in and it’s always great to be here.”

Boswell recognized the mayors and public officials in attendance and shared how ADECA has directly impacted the Cullman area.

“I asked someone earlier just to guess how much money has been given to Cullman County from the standpoint of CDBGs (Community Development Block Grants), from that standpoint since May of 2017. When you say, ‘What is the significance of May of 2017?’ that’s when I came on board. I didn’t want to grade anything past that because I wanted (Cullman Economic Development Agency Director) Dale (Greer) to know exactly how much, and that would be an even $10 million,” he said. “But we tell you that that $10 million is just not 10 million, it is just a forced multiplier to dollars that have been up with it (matching funds). And we tell you that it’s the reason you are having such growth from the standpoint of economic development, such growth when it comes to the Chamber (of Commerce) and such growth when it comes to the overall health of your community.”

2020 Census

Boswell, as Gov. Kay Ivey before him when she visited Cullman earlier this month and more recently, city leaders, addressed the importance of the 2020 Census to Alabamians.

“This will not only impact you now, but also for the next 10 years. I’m talking about the Census. If you don’t participate in the Census, this will impact federal dollars that come down to us from Washington D.C. Right now, there’s approximately $1,600 per Alabamian that comes into this state,” he said. “I’m going to put a little fear in it. I think, in my opinion, this is one of the most important Censuses in my lifetime…I would almost go as far and say that it’s one of the most important Censuses in the history of Alabama in that we stand to lose a congressional seat. Now that doesn’t sound too good. A lot of people don’t have appreciation for the federal government, really, they don’t. They don’t trust the government. When I say that, I follow up with this statement: your congressional leaders help you actually get those dollars in the states. And if those dollars don’t continue to flow in, my elected people can tell you this, once you give it to your constituents, once you give it to your citizens, it’s hard to take it back. Let me tell you what’s going to happen if that dollar starts drawing up or shrinking or we don’t get as much, then they’re going to have to increase taxes.”

He continued, “It took me two days. Two. I’m a slow reader, but when you’re reading a bill you better read slow. Do you know how the actual gas tax dollars will be allocated? It will be through the Census. So, if you want the nice dollars to come back to you and your county, so that you can continue to keep your taxes low, I would highly encourage you to participate in the upcoming Census.”

Boswell addressed the officials at the meeting: “Talk about how important the upcoming Census is.”

He said the participation rate in the 2010 Census was 72%, sharing, “Now, it’s got to be above 72%.”

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ADECA Director Kenneth Boswell is seen at the Cullman Area Chamber of Commerce Sept. Community Luncheon Friday. (Maggie Darnell for The Cullman Tribune)

Maggie Darnell