Cullman Economic Development Agency named among top in state

Southern Business & Development Magazine says CEDA is among the most successful agencies of its kind in the nation

CEDA Director Dale Greer talks about industrial growth at the Cullman Area Chamber of Commerce’s 2020 Industry Appreciation Reception. (Cullman Tribune file photo)

CULLMAN, Ala. – Southern Business & Development Magazine (SB&D) in its Winter 2020 issue named the Cullman Economic Development Agency (CEDA) among the state’s top economic development entities. 

SB&D publisher Michael Randle wrote: “Long run by Peggy Smith and now Dale Greer, the Cullman Economic Development Agency is one of the most successful in its peer group in not only Alabama and the South, but the nation. Cullman has consistently been named among the top Micropolitans in the United States by such trade publications as Site Selection and Southern Business & Development magazines. Its central location directly on Interstate 65- the spine of the Southern Automotive Corridor- is second to none. The automotive industry rules in Cullman, but the county is thriving with other industry sectors.”

After the report came out, CEDA Director Dale Greer sent this message to City of Cullman and Cullman County officials and members of the industrial development boards:

I knew CEDA was being recognized in South Business & Development Magazine for our historically successful economic development efforts. Nice accolades for our office and Cullman County.

Southern Business and Development Magazine was founded in 1992 and is published quarterly. The magazine focuses on the 15 Southern states with combined economic development that is billed as the World’s third largest economy.

However, I did not have input in what was written. I would have acknowledged the team here at the development office that makes our success possible. I appreciate all of them for the role they play in creating jobs and capital investment, recruiting people and promoting the community. Our work makes a difference.

I also understand this agency would not be recognized as one of the best in the state and country without the financial investment provided by the City of Cullman. Add the leadership we receive from the Mayor, City Council and City Industrial Development Board and you have the ingredients for a truly special program. The group effort is what drives our success.

Many times, that group effort includes support from the County IDA, Cullman County Commission and even other municipalities or agencies. Every aspect of a community –workforce, the school systems, Wallace State College, healthcare, recreation, quality of life–is taken into consideration by companies looking to locate or expand.

Partnerships are important and I am convinced that our reputation of coming together to meet the needs of the industry considering us has been a huge factor in the community growth.

Thanks to all of you.

On Tuesday afternoon, Greer told The Tribune, “What’s that thing about, ‘It takes a village to raise a child?’ Well, you know, the whole village is considered when you’re looking at economic development. It may start with them looking at buildings, sites and the agency providing them information- an agency like ours- but the final evaluation is all the other components in a community. That’s the way it works.

He continued, “I think part of our success over the years has been that we had the ability, as a community, to get the right players to the table. You know, sometimes it’s the college and sometimes it’s the school system, sometimes it’s utilities, but it’s generally a combination of all of those. We’re just able to do that and make it work.

“I think what helps us a lot, too, is that once you get a few companies and you locate them, and they’re successful- and that’s been really positive for us, because we’ve had a number that have expanded and done very, very well here- then that helps with your track record. When they’re successful, then it makes other people look at them and go, ‘Well, they’re doing good: they located this time and they’ve expanded a couple of times.’ And so, you see that, and then that’s a tribute to your workforce and all of the other components, and I think that reputation has helped us a lot over the years, too. Your industrial base and how it performs is certainly a real positive when you’re looking at continuing to grow, and that helps you.”

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W.C. Mann