Gov. Robert Bentley said one of his favorite parts of leaving Montgomery is visiting cities that rarely see the governor in their area. St. Clair County does not qualify in this respect; indeed, Gov. Bentley has visited the county on a number of occasions since his election in 2010, almost always to celebrate a new facility or to break ground on economic development.
"This is a very good area," Bentley said during his visit, part of the ongoing "Road to Economic Recovery Tour" throughout the state. "I have been here a couple of times for openings and other things to add jobs.
"I think people have things together in this part of the state. We have a need for the overall economy to continue to pick up across the state, but we can’t neglect small businesses, either. I think they’re doing it right in St. Clair County."
Bentley saw those results for himself firsthand on Thursday, as he visited Interstate Freight on I-20, sat down with the Economic Development Council’s Board of Directors and toured Pell City’s City Hall facility. At each stop, his conclusion was the same: "This is what we should have all over the state."
"Most places are asking how can we attract new industry to come to our area," he said. "Every area is really different – some counties don’t even have economic development boards. Recruiting industry is a personal relationship – you have to show them your county really wants them to come."
The impression was a positive one, but Bentley said the county, and the state, are far from done.
"We need to have workers," he said. "We need to have skilled workers. We need to do (education) right.
"I believe we’re on the right track."