Hyundai good for Atmore
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As top gubernatorial candidates are busy slapping together last-minute spin campaigns to tout their involvement in recruiting auto manufacturer Hyundai to Hope Hull, Atmore and other communities hard-hit by the southward migration are wondering where the recruitment leaves them.
Neighboring Butler County, located one county south of Montgomery County where the plant will be located (and county seat Greenville has a four-lane speed dial to the facility in I-65), will certainly see benefit.
But what about Escambia County?
Facing key losses in manufacturing, we need all the help we can get, and the Hyundai facility, while a tremendous asset for our state, may be too far away at a little more than 100 miles to be much benefit.
That said, other interesting possibilities become apparent.
As the corridor of U.S. Highway 231 has become a viable artery of aeronautics and missile production from Huntsville to Dothan, Interstate 65 could well become a corridor that lends itself to the manufacturing of automobiles or of automotive parts.
And this is what Atmore and Escambia now have to offer.
Given our proximity to Interstate 65, particularly along Highway 21 from Atmore, we may be in a prime location to be able to capitalize on spin-off industry for facilities like Hyundai and Mercedes that have located in Alabama.
Furthermore, the viability of I-65 as an artery to reach markets like Mobile and Pensacola along the I-10 corridor may also entice industry to our area.
Alto Products, which manufactures parts for the automotive industry, has proven that Atmore has the people and offers the opportunity for manufacturers to be successful here.
Furthermore, we have an available workforce.
But putting the pieces of this complex puzzle together will be challenging for local recruiters.
We must work to continue to insist that our infrastructure expand and develop so we can stay competitive for such industries. Working to encourage Florida to four-lane Highway 97 to the state line would be a good place to start.
We must also continue to work with education officials to help our system of public education stay ahead of the state average just as we need to work in our community to improve access to public recreation activities in order to meet quality of life concerns of potential plant officials.
But we can do it.
A little more than 10 years ago, no one would have considered Alabama to be the potential site for Mercedes. Now, a plant is in full swing in Vance.
Atmore may also be a longshot for the "next big thing," but with all of our hard work, cooperation with industrial recruiters and attention to making our homefront better and stronger, we can get there.