CROPWELL -- Officials from across St. Clair County gathered recently to break ground on a new retail center in Cropwell.
The new 4 acre development will include a gas station, convenience store, restaurant, storage and other needed service in that area.
County Commissioner Tommy Bowers, Riverside Mayor and President of the St. Clair County Mayors Association Rusty Jessup, Pell City Schools Superintendent Dr. James Martin, Economic Development Council Executive Director Don Smith and representatives of the Pell City Chamber of Commerce were all in attendance.
Jay Patel, who also operates a business in Ragland, is the developer for the project.
During his welcome, Smith said St. Clair County continues to grow because of the continued investment of developers like Patel.
Patel said he is a long-time resident of the county and wants to expand his investment in St. Clair.
“I have lived in this community for 10 years and love it,” Patel said. “I want to invest in the community and our schools.”
Patel said he is committed to working to better the community. As part of this commitment, Patel took time during the ceremony to present a $1,000 donation to nearby Coosa Valley Elementary School and an additional penny per gallon of gas that is sold at his new location. School counselor Jennifer Alverson accepted the initial donation.
“The parents and staff of Coosa Valley Elementary school will be customers of our development, and I want to show my appreciation and be a good neighbor back to them,“ Patel said.
Patel also donated $500 to the New London Fire Department, which was accepted by Assistant Chief Paul Leger.
“The St. County Commission welcomes this newest investment by Mr. Patel in our fast-growing county,” Commission Chairman Paul Manning said in a press release about the development. “This commission will continue to support entrepreneurs and new businesses in our county in order to continue to have a strong, vibrant local economy,“
In the press release, Patel thanked the St. Clair County Commission, state Rep. Randy Wood (R-Saks), the Economic Development Council, the Pell City Chamber of Commerce, the Sheriff's Office and the city of Pell City for all they have done in helping the development move forward.
During his remarks during the groundbreaking, Bowers said he had been speaking with Patel about the development for some time.
“Jay has the drive and the foresight to make things happen,” Bowers said.
He also said he was happy to see Patel invest in more areas of the county.
Jessup said while he knew he was a bit far from home, he was glad to see Patel’s drive to invest more in the county.
“We are glad to see his enthusiasm for investing in St. Clair County because it's a great place to live, whether its in Riverside, Pell City, Moody, Asheville or Ragland,” Jessup said.
Jessup said as the president of the mayors association, he is always happy to see continued growth.
The new retail center expects to open in early spring of 2021.