Dale economic corporation to go after aviation, retail businesses

Written by Ebony Horton. Posted in News

OZARK—After raising more than $1 million for economic development through dozens of partnerships with residents and businesses region wide, the Ozark-Dale County Economic Development Corporation said it is continuing efforts to recruit major industries into the Dale County area.

ODEC officials met with Ozark and Dale County leaders Thursday for a briefing of the corporation's actions throughout the previous year. ODEC board chairman John Ferguson said much of the past year has been spent raising an estimated $1.07 million for economic development and meeting with residents and business owners to discover what's most needed in the area.

ODEC Aviation Director Stephanie Blankenship said work is underway to continue to expose the opportunities available at the airport.

"It is very important that we let people know what we have, and one of the first things people want to know is the workforce," Blankenship said.

"All we have to say (in aviation) is that the (Alabama Aviation Center) is right there on the airport. ... We also want to continue to partner and to develop a speculative hangar for maintenance, repair and overhaul companies for the aviation and defense industry. All of this is being done to prepare us so that when that industry does come, we're ready."

ODEC Executive Director Eric Basinger said existing German businesses in Dale County give the county credibility in Europe and elsewhere for a willingness to pursue international companies.

While economic development has changed over the last decade, Basinger said the partnership between Dale County and its municipalities, as well as partnerships with neighboring communities and some in Florida, shows a unified effort.

"There are fewer projects in economic development than ever before and there are more communities than ever before chasing after those big projects," he said.

"In Alabama, we are also going up against other countries that are putting incentive packages on the table. We're doing a lot of work on retail, with our focus on the larger, anchor-type buildings. We want to do more work with composites, materials for aviation, and with our rail access, we have a good potential for some logistics opportunities."