July 11, 2011

Angela Wier, EDPA

Necessity has been called the mother of invention. And there is no doubt that the Gulf Oil Spill of 2010 created an important and immediate need to address the economic health of southwest Alabama and create a plan for long-term sustainability.  But how do you assist a distressed area during already tough economic times? Leverage.

 A few weeks ago, the University of South Alabama hosted a kick-off meeting for a work process funded by a grant awarded to EDPA from the Economic Development Administration. With federal and matching funds, more than $1 million will be invested in the development of a plan for an eight-county area. That’s leverage.

The kickoff meeting was a glimpse of progress in motion. In attendance were economic developers, regional planners, business leaders, local and state government leaders, shoulder to shoulder with university experts from across the state…all united to determine how to best serve these diverse economic areas, interlinked not only with each other, but with the state as a whole.

Even in this first meeting, conversations were fruitful and new relationships were forged. It will be exciting to watch the work program move forward – we hope to find in it a process that can be replicated throughout the state.

This project will culminate in April 2012 with the delivery of an implementation plan to the EDA and Governor Bentley. I invite you to follow our journey.  For more information, please visit http://www.eda.gov/grants/, and check often for updates.