Tallapoosa Co. leaders determined to change jobless rate status

Posted by Bryan Henry  -  bio | email

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Starting Tuesday Alex City Chamber of Commerce President Marvin Wagoner has a monumental task ahead of him.

"We're not just competing statewide but across the country," said Wagoner.

So does Don McClelland, Executive Director of the Lake Martin Area Economic Development Alliance office.

"Sure, I'm nervous," he said.

Together, both men will market two of the 25 buildings owned by Fruit of the Loom, a  manufacturing building and behind it an administration office complex.

"People want to make sure the economy is turning around," said McClelland.

There was a time when jobs were aplenty in Tallapoosa County. Before Fruit of the Loom bought out Russell, the textile giant employed 8,000 people. Not anymore. The industry changed in the late 1990s. Jobs went off-shore.

"We have gone through some challenging times," said Wagoner.

All the more reason why Wagoner says he literally picked up the phone and called management at Fruit of the Loom and suggested they market the two buildings. Very little business activity is going on right now in the buildings.

A monumental challenge in the sense there are 17,000 economic development offices across the country like the one McClelland is in charge of, all competing for the same prize of developing their respective economy.

In a week or so the properties will be listed on the economic development's website.

Marvin Wagoner says they have a few companies looking at the properties already but so far no serious prospects.

"We do have a few looking,"said Wagoner.

Another motivating factor to show off the two buildings and bring in new business; the jobless rate in Tallapoosa County is more than 14% as of March, a little higher than the state average.

Fruit of the Loom has not disclosed the official asking price for the two structures because we're told company officials are still talking with commercial realtors.

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