TUSKEGEE, AL (WSFA) - Researchers at Alabama State University say this is truly a "County in Crisis". The study suggests Macon County has the state's 4th highest poverty level, 25% of the people living here lack basic literacy skills, and it has one of the highest homicide rates in the state.
"I wished in could look into a crystal ball and see what went wrong." says community leader, Noah Hopkins. For Hopkins the glass is still half full, but he agrees; Macon County has a long way to go.
That's why this New Orleans transplant is pulling out all the stops to create a tourism destination in Tuskegee; using it's past as a ticket to a more prosperous future.
"I think that tourism is the horse we are gonna ride out of here on."
The economic situation in Macon County is more sobering for Derrick Wilson, a barber in downtown Tuskegee.
Wilson agrees, "We are struggling. This is my only income. My wife has been out of work since they closed Victoryland. That's been what? 2 years?"
Wilson says, time and time again, he's watched major industry pass Tuskegee by. While he's thankful for the few retail chains that have taken a chance in Tuskegee, it's not enough to support the local workforce.
"It just looks like nothing is coming our way."
Hopkins points out, "We have a lot of really smart people in Tuskegee. But we are going to have to starting thinking good about ourselves."
A town with potential...or a county in crisis?
According to Hopkins, perception isn't always reality.