Sen. Richard Shelby’s visits to automotive industry plants in recent days are a positive sign of interest in Alabama’s fastest growing economic engine. Shelby toured Eissmann Automotive in Pell City and learned the company plans to create about 120 new jobs this year. The company produces a variety of components for automotive interiors. Their components are installed in a number of high quality vehicles including Corvette, Mercedes, Jeep and Tesla.

He also visited Honda Manufacturing of Alabama, where a $78 million expansion was recently announced, which will create about 50 new jobs—that brings new investment to more than a half billion dollars since March of 2011, with about 450 new jobs. Honda employs about 4,000 people at its Lincoln facility.

Shelby is approaching the end of a tour of businesses in all 67 of Alabama’s county’s during the first two months of the year. Our senior senator said job creation must be our top priority, and he wants to hear firsthand from job creators and workers how federal policies are affecting growth.

Since he was first elected to the Senate in 1986, Shelby has kept a pledge to visit every county in the state every year to keep in touch with the people he represents. That’s not a unique commitment with Shelby — a number of past and present senators from other states do the same thing — but it’s not something he is required to do. So far, he has made more than 1,800 visits to counties in the state. Undoubtedly it’s a good plan for getting to meet voters, but his current term doesn’t end for two more years, and at his age—he’ll be 80 in May—it’s far from certain whether he will seek another 6-year term in office.

His commitment to meet the people he represents is commendable, and his decision to meet people where they work demonstrates a desire to help keep the economy moving forward.