We must encourage new leaders

Published 9:15am Wednesday, March 26, 2014

By U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne

It continues to be an exciting time in southwest Alabama, with businesses from across the globe like Austal and Airbus recognizing our home for its potential to become a regional hub for jobs. Just last week, the Chamber of Commerce announced that Mobile is among the top 10 cities in America for manufacturing jobs. With developments at Brookley and around Southwest Alabama, I believe we will only see that number continue to grow. As we work to attract more investment and forge new partnerships, it’s important that the next generation of leaders understands how government, business, and education can all work together to meet the workforce needs for the future.

That’s why last week, my office was proud to continue in the tradition of Jo Bonner and Sonny Callahan, hosting our annual Workshop for High School Leaders. We were blessed to hear perspectives from leaders like Mobile Mayor Sandy Stimpson, University of South Alabama Acting President Dr. John Smith, representatives from local employers like Austal and Airbus, and Fox 10 News Anchor Bob Grip. With over 350 bright young leaders from all over Southwest Alabama in attendance, we enjoyed a productive discussion on what we can do now as a community to better support these jobs, and the challenges our future leaders will face as we continue to attract new opportunities. While it’s clear there is work to be done in workforce training, infrastructure, education, and job creation, there is no question that our future is bright.

I am proud that two of my children have chosen to return to Mobile to live and work. I believe it is critical to make southwest Alabama an attractive choice for young, talented professionals from all over the country. Engaging our local high school leaders and educating them in ways that government can work together with leaders in so many other fields is important. It invests these students in our community today so that one day, they will have the desire to take on these roles.

As your representative, I believe cultivating the next generation of leadership in Southwest Alabama is an important job we have to tackle today. We have such a bright future ahead of us — but we need the right people in place to be able to hand the torch to when the time comes. I’ll continue working with our partners in business and education to build an environment for a healthy economy that continues southwest Alabama’s forward momentum into the next generation.

Bradley Byrne is the U.S. representative for the 1st Congressional District of Alabama, which includes Escambia County.

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