OK, then. Let’s be happy. We’re on a list.
Which, given the fact that our county isn’t named Jefferson, Mobile, Madison, Tuscaloosa, Lee or Montgomery, may equate to a modern miracle.
The governor — the rarely-seen-around-here Robert Bentley — mentioned Calhoun County recently when announcing a new grant to help tourism in east Alabama. The $60,000 check funded by the Appalachian Regional Commission is designed to help counties market sites to tourists, travelers and history buffs. We have historical sites and attractive museums, so this sounds like a grant tailor-made for our picturesque part of the state.
“Alabama’s Piedmont region and Appalachian foothills offer spectacular scenery, fascinating history, wonderful attractions and great food and lodging,” Bentley said in a press release about the grant. “I hope this funding will lead more people to discover the great things this part of Alabama offers.”
Thank you, governor.
Indeed, we have great things to offer.
Now, what’s next?
A McClellan-themed announcement about an incoming industrial plant that will employ 300 in high-paying jobs?
A press conference to detail a new business on U.S. 431 that will hire hundreds of people from Calhoun and Etowah counties?
What’cha say, governor?
All kidding aside, it’s tough to sit back in Calhoun County and witness the governor’s office thump its chest for the state’s latest jobs-producing deal. Granted, they’re made-for-TV PR follies that make the governor and his economic-development team look as if they’re on the ball. Grip-and-grin photographs are insipid journalism.
They’re effective, nonetheless.
In February, the governor announced that Golden Dragon Copper would build a $100 million plant in Wilcox County and hire 300 people — and possibly 500 with later expansion.
In March, the governor announced that SiO2 Medical Products was planning to invest $90 million on a new facility in Auburn and hire 300 more workers.
In May, the governor announced a coal mine-related project that would create 500 new jobs in four counties: Tuscaloosa, Walker, Fayette and Mobile.
In June, the governor announced that Lawrence County would benefit from a new Jack Daniels Cooperage and its 200 additional jobs.
Earlier this month, the governor beamed when Airbus decided to build its first U.S. production plant in Mobile. It’s an open checkbook of endless possibilities — for jobs, economic impact, future expansion and potential suppliers. As job-creating economic recruiting goes, it’s an out-of-the-park home run. Mobile’s own Hank Aaron couldn’t have done better.
Since then, he’s traveled to the international air show in England; visited Stuttgart, Germany, to thank Daimler AG officials for expanding the Mercedes-Benz facility in Tuscaloosa County; and called on an Airbus production plant in Hamburg, Germany.
Oh, and this week: He threw Cullman County a bone by announcing a green-energy company, Zero RPM, would create 54 new jobs when it begins operations in a business incubator at Wallace State Community College.
Here, here. Cheer what the governor and his team have done.
But, like a petulant, self-absorbed 13-year-old, we have to ask:
When’s it our turn?
Our house is in order now, right? The Anniston City Council has settled down — finally — thanks to a late-season makeover. Movement on worthwhile projects —Anniston’s justice center, for instance — is a sign of progress. The McClellan Development Authority is competent and productive, something that couldn’t always be said for its predecessor. Anniston’s former Army post still retains its original promise: an economic goldmine with unlimited potential sitting perfectly between Birmingham and Atlanta. August’s elections provide an opportunity to bring political stability to most of the county. The first half of the parkway is complete; the second phase will be finished, well, someday, but don’t blame us for that delay.
In other words, there’s no reason why Calhoun County can’t join the fun. If Cullman, if Wilcox, if Lee, why not Calhoun?
It takes two to tango, sure. No one — not Bentley, not his advisers, not outside industries — will award Calhoun County a gift basket of quality jobs and long-term industries out of the goodness of their heart. The county has to provide its part, too: trained and abundant work forces and local governments willing to consider tax breaks and abatements being at the top of the list. Superior schools help, too. There’s so much more that goes into industrial-recruitment deals than meets the eye.
But c’mon, governor.
Come back to Calhoun County.
Cut a ribbon, make an announcement.
Let us play in your game, too.
Phillip Tutor — email@example.com — is The Star’s commentary editor. Follow him at Twitter.com/PTutor_Star.