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Strategic planning session yields assets, issues for Atmore

Community and business leaders came together and shared their vision for Atmore’s future in a Coastal Gateway Regional Strategic Economic Development Plan Visioning and Economic Development Strategy Session on Oct. 20.

Some 20 people shared their input with representatives from the Janus Institute from Atlanta, Ga.; Goodwyn, Mills and Cawood; and the CGREDA. The Janus Institute is an organization that helps with the development of economies in areas.

The purpose of the session was to gain input for a planning strategy for a multi-county region.

Robert Pittman with the Janus Institute and Larry Watts, project manager with GMC led the information gathering session.

Watts and Pittman asked for some assets on the area. Some assets include:

• A grant from Frontier Communications;

• Atmore is a community-based family hub;

• Access to Interstate 65;

• School system;

• Working on an Amtrak deal;

• Vast amount of churches and parks;

• Low home prices;

• A natural gas pipeline;

• Two railroads;

• Drive time to other areas, ease of access;

• Two college campuses;

• Wind Creek Casino and Hotel;

• An active chamber of commerce;

• Good restaurants;

• Natural resources;

• Career tech opportunities;

• An industrial park; and,

• An airport.

Some of the issues listed include:

• Holman prison;

• Young people staying in Atmore;

• Telecom and Internet issues;

• High school education system;

• Real estate;

• Outside perception; and,

• No downtown development.

Pittman gave the crowd a scenario where each was in an elevator with a person who was looking to locate their business in Atmore.

“What’s your sales pitch,” he asked.

Atmore City Councilwoman Susan Smith gave the first of a few answers.

“We have everything you are looking for,” Smith said.

Another answer was the diverse downtown area in which many boutiques can be established.