CULLMAN, Ala. – The Cullman Area Chamber of Commerce (COC) came together Thursday evening with the Cullman Economic Development Agency (CEDA), Cullman County Economic Development, Cullman Industrial Development Board and Cullman County Industrial Development Authority at Terri Pines Country Club to celebrate Cullman area industries and the recent growth they have experienced.
COC Chair Kay Schabel told the audience, “This reception is a special time for us at the Chamber, along with CEDA and the Cullman County Economic Development teams to say, ‘Thank you.’
“Thank you for generating employment opportunities, providing educational opportunities, encouraging advancement and innovation and better utilizing resources. All of these benefits and more make you, our local industry, extremely valuable to our population and the local economy.”
CEDA Director Dale Greer shared unofficial numbers indicating that, in the last year:
- More than 450 new manufacturing jobs have been added
- 40 industries have started up or expanded
- Local industries have made over $130 million in capital investments
Over the last 10 years, according to Greer, industries have invested more than $1.1 billion in the Cullman area.
Greer credited the workforce here “that enables your facilities to produce quality products and services each day,” and added, “Place them in a community like Cullman with a pro-business support system from city and county governments, city and county economic development agencies, city and county industrial boards, a world-class community college, a remarkable high school technical program, exceptional city and county schools and reliable companies, and there is potential to be among the best industry sites in Alabama.”
Greer talked about Cullman County’s low 2.2% unemployment rate and noted that such a low number creates its own problems like attracting and recruiting workers for new or expanding industries, and especially housing the growing area workforce. He told the audience that entities in the county are working on improving both housing availability and overall quality of life throughout the community.
In attracting and creating a workforce, Greer touted local efforts, including:
- A new career and workforce development center at Wallace State Community College
- Plans for a new technology academy for Cullman County Schools
- The “World of Work” program that exposes eighth- and ninth-grade students to technical jobs and careers
- Dual enrollment programs for high school students
- Availability of apprenticeships and internships in the area
Said Greer, “We have not yet matched industry’s job creation speed, but we are trying as a community to locate new people, prepare students for you faster than ever before and give them skills that match your needs.”
Greer pointed to cooperation between agencies and industries as a key to success and set forth new industry DB Technologies as an example. The industry benefited from the assistance of Tech Village Cullman-a joint venture between the City of Cullman, Wallace State, and the COC-and was incubated at Wallace State, which also incubated Zero RPM and Sequence Health.
Greer noted, “Nearly every community partner will step up when needed.”
Interim COC President/CEO Peggy Smith recognized four local industries for hosting 2019 industry tours: MetSouth, Cullman Cabinet, Webb Wheel and American Trim.
In her closing remarks, Smith told the audience, “Tonight, we have witnessed how the Cullman area continues its positive forward movement, thanks to a lot of the people that are sitting in this room. We are honored to be here tonight with our incredible industry representatives and all these great partners that continue working for the common good and the best interest of our entire community.”
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