Atmore is one in a million

Published 4:44 am Saturday, May 3, 2003

By By Brian Giles
I want you to think about something. I want you to use your imagination for a few moments. Imagine that I am the owner of a company looking to possibly locate a 500 plus employee factory in Atmore. I am visiting to get a feel of the community, before I met with city officials. What do I see?
Growing up in Clanton, Ala., in the central part of the state I knew very little about Atmore. I was familiar with the name, I had seen the sign on the interstate while on the way to the beach, I had heard about the prison, but that was about it.
I started learning more and more about Atmore as my career developed with Boone newspapers while in Natchez, Miss.
I would hear tidbits of information about the town and would occasionally see different special publications that The Advance had published. I would always listen more closely when someone made mention of the town.
At that time, I had not dreamed of being asked to move to Atmore and be the publisher of The Advance. I'm not going to refer to it as destiny or even a coincidence, but it just seems like I was meant to be here.
I have visited many small southern towns, but I would honestly say that Atmore is one in a million.
I visited here for the first time on April 23rd, my wife and I arrived to look at the town and to make a decision on if we wanted to make Atmore our home. When we got here we met with a representative from the newspaper and had lunch at Gerlach's. The only thing I can say about Gerlach's is Wow! The food, atmosphere, and service were fantastic. As we began our driving tour I was impressed by the cleanliness of the town. I was not expecting the visual appeal that Atmore provides. The layout of town is also friendly and convenient; all of the blocks are squared which makes navigation through the town pleasurable. Moving here from Natchez, my wife and I are both very happy that we don't have all of the one-way streets that we dealt with there.
Another great attribute is the location, I cannot think of any place in the world that I would rather be than in South Alabama about an hour from the Gulf.
Most of all, we were impressed with the people of Atmore. During our short stay to visit the town I can say we were treated better than I ever remember.
Growing up in the South everyone is familiar with the term "southern hospitality." The people of Atmore are redefining that term and setting a higher standard. We met a variety of people ranging from convenience store attendants, waitresses, hotel employees, storeowners and a realtor.
I have never had so many people be so helpful and friendly in a single day. The great thing is that people did not know if I was the new publisher of the paper or if I was just someone passing through town. Everyone went out of their way to make us comfortable on our stay.
We walked into the office of Ann Gordon, a local real estate broker without an appointment and she dropped everything that was going on to help us look for a home in Atmore.
Ann spent almost a full day with us searching and looking at houses. That is the type of customer service that I want to strive to reach at The Advance.
I want the people that advertise, subscribe and read The Atmore Advance to smile and say with pride that this is our hometown newspaper.
One of the major topics of discussion since I have been in town has been industrial recruitment and what the city can do to attract one or more prospective industries. I think Mayor Shell and our city leaders are right on track.
The city has a wonderful industrial park, new land to develop on the interstate and the workforce needed for industry to locate here. I feel like it is only a matter of time. Imagine that I had been the owner of that company. If I had been that person, I was sold by the end of the day.
The people of this town are so wonderful and good things have a way of happening to good people and Atmore is good people. I am proud to be associated with such a great community. Atmore is truly one in a million.
Brian Giles is publisher of The Atmore Advance. His column appears on Sunday's. You can reach him at 368-2123 or by e-mail at

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