Southeast Alabama Often Left Out In Economic Cold

Bryan Henry investigates why South Alabama isn't getting in on the economic boom.
Bryan Henry investigates why South Alabama isn't getting in on the economic boom.

Jim Bradley may very well have one of the toughest jobs around as Executive Director of the Eufaula-Barbour County Chamber of Commerce.

"I will admit to a little envy," Bradley said.

Bradley has the job of trying to lure a big industry when so many of his contemporaries are hitting home runs like Montgomery, Lincoln and Vance. In fact just a few days ago west Alabama scored a direct hit with a multi-million dollar steel company along with 200 jobs. That leaves southeast Alabama without anything to brag about.

Bradley says the problem in this part of the state is all so clear.

"We just don't have an interstate close by. The nearest one is 80 miles away and that's I-85," Bradley said.

Problem identified, now a potential solution. Bradley is convinced it could turn the tide in the Wiregrass' favor.

"Highway 431 is about to be extended and most of your megasites are located along the interstates," said Bradley.

The way Jim Bradley sees it, Barbour County is fertile ground for something big. After all this is a county that's lost 500 jobs since September.

"It is a concern as to when will our time come," Bradley said.

The other side of that thinking is Chambers throughout Alabama feel the same way. Meantime, it's not all economic gloom and doom in the Wiregrass. Barbour County, for instance, has 3,000 manufacturing jobs and Lake Eufaula is the driving force behind the tourism business in these parts, some 3 million visitors a year.

With all the talk of Volkswagon looking at Alabama, Bradley isn't losing hope the Germans will take a look at the Wiregrass. If not Jim Bradley, a veteran of more than 30 years in the chamber business, will simply start over.

Published reporters have Volkswagon looking at Limestone County in north Alabama and some areas of Tennessee, but not the Wiregrass.