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1. Ditto the interstate thing.

2. Fire ALL who are now and block anyone with local ties to the local governments. Fire all in the state gov't from this area. Time for new blood and ideas. Import a city manager who has a proven record and a new board of directors that also have proven records.

3. Get rid of the illegals. That is a blight on the area.

4. Ditch the "retirement community" mentality. That is a massive sign of "young people not welcome" and results in brain drain. See the Brain Drain series from NOV 2004 in the TD.

5. Prevent Bonner and company from doing their get rich for themselves quick schemes.

Those 5 are just a start. I know there is more.
Work with UNA to either add programs of study (preferably engineering) or find out what their top students are

majoring in. Pick industries that coincide with this and give these industries the incentive dollars to come here.

Sudents intern with these industries & have a job right out of college in Florence. If I understand correctly,

internship = free labor for the new industry, which is another incentive for them to come to our area.
Last edited by _Joy_
I was just waiting Shoals to see what other posters would suggest, all are good and exactly on point. I have to give my opinion from another post: SCRAP EVERYTHING! Disband SEDA with a firing of Forrest (Wrong) Wright, elect an entirely new unified council not divided by districts and combine both Lauderdale and Colbert counties to become the 4th, yes 4th people delegation to the state legislator! Of course, Sam the Man Pendelton couldn't get services for free anymore (mentioned this in reference to one of his tirades in a past council meeting when consolidation was discussed) but the CITIZENS of the are would benefit! Seperately, we are doomed!
Tueplo, has been mentioned lately in some topics. Just take a look at their highway system. 78 east and west new 45 north and south a HUGH loop yhat goes around the town, it changes names every so ofton but it's still the same road. But one needs to understand that this "old" southern town was destroyed in the 30's. A terrible tornado almost wiped out the whole town. Thus making room for a slow growth with the needed infrastructure plan in place, because of men with a vision. Do we have men willing to buck the old to give hope to the young. Not just in the next 5-10 years but the next 50.
Good question Max, until we get the people of the Shoals area fired up enough (and what in the hell will it take?) to protest long and loud against the system that is: We will only have more of the same. That is apparant in the so called "new" city council. With the exception of Scott Carrier, who is the only one I could vote for in my district, and no one else of substance ran against "Save the Shoal" Booby Irons (and a lot of folks are regretting that vote) the money folks will keep this area as it is! Poor and underdeveloped so families like the Anderson's and others who own "local" industry can get rich at the expense of the populace.
quote:
Originally posted by logical:
Combine Florence, Muscle Shoals, Tuscumbia, and Sheffield into a single city.

Finish Hwys 157 and 133


While combining all four cities would be best, the reality is; that's almost impossible. Mainly because it involves two neighboring counties. That would require something on the order of an amendment to the state constitution. The two counties would have to be combined and a new county seat determined. I just don't see that happening. However a Metro government combining the three cities on this side of the river with the Colbert county commision would be a major step in the right direction. And it's doable.

There are several things that stand in the way of this unification. One is te loss of identity. No one wants to lose their place in the world. The residents of each city think that their town has the most to lose. Even Sheffield residents, as poor as that city is, are against the move deep down if their city were to lose it's identity. Unfortunately this simple obstacle is going to be a major thing to overcome.

The next thing is the assumption of debt. Muscle Shoals is currently the most solvent of the three cities in question. They are growing, slowly but growth none the less. If they aren't careful though they could find themself in trouble. Sheffield is boxed in. Built up all around. Muscle Shoals could wake up in the same shape if they mess with Harvey Robbins enough. He's still on the move in Tuscumbia and south of Muscle Shoals with the Industrial Park/Longhorn Arena area. He's also moving on the east side with the golf course development. He's got the money to pen Muscle Shoals in if he wants to. Tuscumbia is growing but not enough. I'm happy to see the improvement being made but we need more.

Combining the three city governments and the county commission would be awesome. Just think of all the benefits. Better city services for everybody. Better fire protection with more fire fighters and better training and equipment. Bigger and better police department with more officers and better training. One utility department, one street and sanitation department, one parks and recreation department all with more money and therefore more grant money to spend on further improvements.

I know it's easy to ennumerate the plusses of combining these different government entities. I also know the hard part is actually doing it. The only way I know of to address a problem is to decide where I want to go, make a list of all the things that stand in the way, then try to figure a way to overcome them. That's what I'm doing here. Making the list of the what. Now let's start to work on the how. We already know why.
THEMAX is right on. Tupelo and the Golden Triangle is experiencing good growth primarly because it has a highway infastructure without a stop light on every corner. Their officials fought and got approved the upgrade of hwy 78 to interstate status. Just think, they don't have to fight with people in 2 counties in Ala and several in Tennessee as to where a new interstate will go, they just get approval to upgrade an existing 4 lane hwy. Trouble is , here in the Shoals, if they had an interstate this bunch would want to put stop lights on it. Look at the new bridge!! A stoplight at each end!. You would think somebody designing our road system would take a drive out of town and see there are such things as entrance and exit ramps instead of the necessity to use so many stop lights.
1) Great post - much better than the cartoon/race thing

2) Get an interstate - at least like the I565 spur

3) Incorporate "The Shoals" as one and get rid of the duplication of services and number of politicians and the infighting among cities.

4) Emphasize the TVA power grid as a great source of cheap electricity - something California can't offer.

Do this and they will come.
Thanks Excel, but don't get me wrong. Tupelo has a much worse drug problem than we do here. The city took over some apts. on I think Ida St. in order to try to clean up its act. The dealers just moved south to Verona. It's been a while, but the city did renovate some of the Apts.and put in place a background check on who rented in those apts. When I left there were already coming back with other peoples ID. In places there we were not allowed to be after dark. Safty reasons, yes I carried, all the time.
quote:
Originally posted by excelman:
THEMAX is right on. Tupelo and the Golden Triangle is experiencing good growth primarly because it has a highway infastructure without a stop light on every corner. ...
Trouble is , here in the Shoals, if they had an interstate this bunch would want to put stop lights on it. Look at the new bridge!! A stoplight at each end!. You would think somebody designing our road system would take a drive out of town and see there are such things as entrance and exit ramps instead of the necessity to use so many stop lights.


I HAVE THE ANSWER!

The Shoals should offer incentives to the company that makes all the red lights to locate here! We have invested enough in them to own half the company!
quote:
Originally posted by Brentenman:
1. Ditto the interstate thing.

2. Fire ALL who are now and block anyone with local ties to the local governments. Fire all in the state gov't from this area. Time for new blood and ideas. Import a city manager who has a proven record and a new board of directors that also have proven records.

3. Get rid of the illegals. That is a blight on the area.

4. Ditch the "retirement community" mentality. That is a massive sign of "young people not welcome" and results in brain drain. See the Brain Drain series from NOV 2004 in the TD.

5. Prevent Bonner and company from doing their get rich for themselves quick schemes.

Those 5 are just a start. I know there is more.


First off... I sure am glad I am not on that list... YET, lol... Still a few more years to retire.

Secondly... I think you have marvelous answers Brentonman!!
The fact that Lowell Barron has resigned his candidacy for President Pro Tem of the AL Senate is a step in the right direction.

Now, north Alabama and other needful areas can get some things done that have been needing to be done for a long, long time!

Short of constructing an Interstate (remember Corridor X? One's a'comin', y'all) and that long-term plan, what can be done in the interim to promote the Shoals, and to bring industry to the area?
quote:
Originally posted by Shoals Lover:
Short of constructing an Interstate (remember Corridor X? One's a'comin', y'all) and that long-term plan, what can be done in the interim to promote the Shoals, and to bring industry to the area?

1) Has it hurt the Shoals area that all local politicians are democrats in a time when the state has done so well under a Republican governor?
Dems have controlled the house/senate and it hasn't helped the Shoals as much as areas receiving the auto plants.
Maybe it should start with lighting a fire under Shoals area politicians to produce or move over, but the dems know they'll just get re-elected again next time.
2) After making politicians accountable then things like infrastructure, cheap electricity, and skilled workers are needed to draw interest.
3) Finally, deep pocket books. New plants require big $$ and incentives. Getting politicians to devote money to incentives when they know it comes out of their coffers is a challenge.
Those of you desiring consolidation of the quad cities would have better luck moving to a new area. The lady suggesting that UNA pursue an engineering program need only to look 60 miles away and see that UNA nor few other universities can compete with UAH in that field therefore should NEVER even try. When recruiting any industry, one should apply a favorite movie title to our efforts..."Field of Dreams." If you build it, they will come... One word - infrastructure. (Utilities, roads, water, means of access, available land, ready to use, money on hand for incentives, a unified front, check egos at the door, leave "who gets the credit" to someone else, and offer all the idiots a more private media to vent.) Potential industry conducts research on us as much as we conduct it on them. In other words, they view our council meetings on TV, they read online postings like AL.com, and they read other discussion groups like this to get a "feel" for the community. They don't only look at our libraries and river systems, they want to see our *****es and gripes too. Unfortunatley, we have an overabundance of those.
Perhaps the real problem with industry in the area is our historical ability to shoot ourselves in the foot. Sheffield in particular has had many chances for greatness it threw away for little or no gain.

"Great" Americans who saw potential in the city/area: Andrew Jackson, camped in Sheffield returning from New Orleans lobbied for the national capital to be located at the site. (not even a plaque); Henry Ford, couldn't lease the dam moved on;

As to ideas to help industry:
1) leash or privatize TVA (fishing & boating are great but if you've got a resource use it)
2) replace local pols (repeatedly, until they get the idea)
3) pay local police more (one of the best paying local cities is about 25% under the national median) & let them do thier jobs to clean up problem areas(prosecute offenses, quit giving certain people an easy ride)
4) increase & improve highways
5) this list is going to be too long...
so i'll end on a upbeat note:

" Let us hope, at least, that from the co-operation of so many energies something
better and fairer than furnaces or mills can fashion may be contributed to the
life of our country and of the world."
[From Northern Alabama Historical and Biographical Illustrated 1888 Smith &
DeLand, Birmingham, Ala.,VII. Sheffield, by William Garrett Brown.]
quote:
Originally posted by duxrus30:
The lady suggesting that UNA pursue an engineering program need only to look 60 miles away and see that UNA nor few other universities can compete with UAH in that field therefore should NEVER even try.


That would be me. That is precisely why it would be an easy addition to UNA's programs of study. Yes, look what is JUST 60 miles away. People from this area commute to Huntsville. They would be thrilled to find work in their own town.

Here's another incentive. The companies (more than likely sister companies to ones already located in Huntsville but not necessarily so!) pay less in the Shoals for the same thing. The rent on buildings or price of buying a building is cheaper here for one. Furthermore, the students also pay less by going to UNA vs. UAH.

I do think it is vital to combine programs of study at UNA with new companies for students to intern with if we want this area to grow, and if we don't want all our kids (due to lack of options in the Shoals) to hit the road as soon as they graduate.

Never try?! That's how we got in this predicament. Wink
quote:
Trouble is , here in the Shoals, if they had an interstate this bunch would want to put stop lights on it. Look at the new bridge!! A stoplight at each end!. You would think somebody designing our road system would take a drive out of town and see there are such things as entrance and exit ramps instead of the necessity to use so many stop lights.



Excelman, you are so right! I don't know who controls, installs and programs the traffic lights in the Shoals, but I wish they would receive some training in traffic flow. It seems they must believe that the more traffic lights there are, the better!! Other cities I've lived in did not have the number of lights here in the Shoals, and in most instances the lights they had were timed to keep traffic moving, not forcing you to stop every few blocks (or even less).

Someone told me one of the reasons there are so many lights in the area is because you are more likely to visit a business if you have to stop in front of it, hence the reason there are more lights. Does anyone know if there is any validity to this? Either way, I wish our traffic engineers understood "traffic flow" instead of "stop and go."
1. Get rid of the "I'll vote Demycrat cause my grand pappy's pappy, pappy, pappy, pappy, pappy voted demycrat and I'm not gonna switch" attitude. It goes back to the Civil war when the Southerners were mad at Lincoln for freeing the slaves, so they voted demycrat. It's time to vote for the best no matter what party they are in.

2. Interstate from Huntsville to Memphis and 4-lane to Birmingman, so that you don't have to get behind farmer brown driving his tractor down 157 in Lawrence County.

3. Hooter's restaurant, we have a place for it... the former Famous Dave's. make it happen. If the local churches don't like this, give them 15 percent off on Sundays with a bulletin or program from the local church.

4. An entertainment center for big time concerts, not just redneck gal Gretchen.
[QUOTE]Originally posted by _Joy_:That is precisely why it would be an easy addition to UNA's programs of study.[QUOTE]

Dear Joy, "Duplication kills." If your interested in engineering, go to UAH, wanna be a vet, go to Auburn. Like law, try UA. In fact, why doesn't the state of Alabama just add more 2 year institutions. But let's not halfway try to duplicate what any of those schools have already mastered. How much money do you give to UNA to make some of those things possible? Do you think the State of Alabama is going to take away money from UAH to give to UNA to open an engineering dept.? Your killing me here!

Want to try something? Sure, but please be smart about it. You are kidding yourself if you think this area will ever compete with Huntsville and those engineering jobs. How much time are you willing to waste trying to figure this out? Those contractors want to be, and will continue to be, without a doubt close to the people who grant the contracts, ie. the Federal government/NASA/US Army. We are not in that game, don't know the rules to that game, don't have access to those who play that game, and will lose, lose, lose that game. If your not good at golf, you might as well try tennis.

Try something please, but choose another route. Let UNA find their own niche and build on that.

I love your intentions, I am grateful for your passion, I share & value your thoughts. But we are not going to get the engineering jobs away from Huntsville. How about this...let's look at a program that can study, evaluate and improve manufacturing methods. How to do what we do better. Design and development a program that improves the efficiency and effectiveness of the manufacturing environment, THEN we can place interns in various companies and try new things. Let UNA develop the very best music and music production programs. Let's recruit a research company that wants to do medical research in the area of blindness. They can claim that they have come to the very heart of where opportunities for blind people began. Let UNA and TVA go to work together and develop a program for nuclear, coal, or river generated power systems and discover ways to make those systems better, then our young people can intern with TVA and go to work with them.

We must take what we do best and try to improve on it. But duplication of anyone else's mastered programs is never going to work.

It's not that "Not trying" got us into this predicament. It's lack of vision that did.
Last edited by duxrus30
Cleaning up the cities and improving the road systems might be a good idea. Driving down Cox Creek, Florence Blvd., and Woodward in MS is a nightmare. Not to mention all the ugly signage and parking lots RIGHT on off of the road. Access roads would be a good idea. And how about a few places to turn instead of an entire turning lane in the middle of the road the entire length of it.

That might not bring in industry, but it would make me happier.

But seriously, I think incorporating UNA into the local market would be a good idea. Not necessarily in engineering, but in other fields maybe. Using students as interns helps small businesses and give interns invaluable experience and a chance at a job after graduation.

And an interstate. That would make it 100% easier for us to get in and out of the area. Driving 45 MPH all the way to Huntsville or Cullman to get to 65 is a pain.
I can bring a Madison County point of view to this topic. There have been many good points and a few not so much in the threads thus far. Hopefully, my effort here will be thought provoking if nothing else.
Please read on...

I was born and raised in Florence, Alabama. Attended school at Kilby, Weeden, Appleby, and graduated with Coffee's class of '82. I was both enlisted and a commissioned officer with the 450th MP Co CS (formerly 330th MP Bn). When I graduated from UNA in '86 with a Bachelor of Science degree I proudly served on active duty with the 4th Infantry Division.

When my hitch was up I initially came back to the Shoals. I found no upwardly mobile jobs in three months of active searching. Sure there were some jobs, but not the type of work that I was seeking. I was not willing to settle for less just to remain in the Shoals. I still have a spot in my heart for the Shoals, but I didn't waste another second knowing that the good opportunities I was looking for were elsewhere. I get back there from time to time to visit family.

I discovered that Madison County was/is THE growth area of North Alabama. There is government and commercial work for those that want to work. I've been successful in commercial work for nearly 20 years in Madison County. The defense and space contractors are even diversifying to include commercial work to ensure their continued presence and progress for future growth. I've never regretted my decision to move.

I recall in the Shoals when Ford, Diamond Shamrock, Union Carbide, TVA, Tee Jay's, Reynolds Metals, and countless others had closures or significant workforce reductions. Wilson Dam Road in front of Lakeside Highlands subdivision used to be bumper-to-bumper traffic during afternoon and evening shift change. My how times have changed... I think that road is growing grass now.

As a young man, I was always under the impression that the downturns were a result of the cost of companies doing business in the Shoals. Transportation, materials, benefits and labor costs were higher than the emerging global economy was willing to endure. They could get products/services cheaper elsewhere with acceptable quality. The loyalty to Alabamian workers was obviously not a primary concern for these companies; they were businesses first.

The Shoals' infra-structure doesn't help to attract or retain new business. A limited airport, no interstate access and AL 157 under "permanent construction", and the State Dock doesn't appear state-of-the-art. It leaves me wondering "What business reputation is the Shoals after?" When I think of Birmingham I think - insurance, banking, and health care; Mobile - shipping and commerce; Montgomery - political hub for lobbyist, lawyers, and power brokering; Huntsville - diversified high-tech development. When I think of the Shoals I am left with no significant business impression.

Looking back, when the Shoals' big businesses shifted from cheap hydroelectric-based manufacturing (Ford, Reynolds & Union Carbide) and chemical production (TVA phosphates & Diamond Shamrock) they seemed to be replaced with hundreds of nondescript smaller boutique businesses. Strip malls opened and closed. Lots of individual contractors. Lots of retail clerk and restaurant jobs.

I believe the topic comes down to "does the Shoals want to compete in the global economy" and, if so, "how will they CHOOSE to compete"? There is available talent and desire. Raise the bar and people of the Shoals will match it with their effort. The Shoals needs strong local leadership and a strong political voice in Montgomery. It's been a long time since Northwest Alabama has had a prominent advocate in State politics. Political strength will be undeniably (and unfortunately) needed get funding and priority.

If the Shoals opts to be a haven to small businesses, then make it "THE Paradise" for small business owners. Choose to build a civic center for business trade shows. Decide to expand the infrastructure to support local growth. Conduct SBA After-Hours "Meet & Greet" happy hours where business owners can connect and network. Provide local business tax breaks or lesser permit fees, etc. Work the UNA for continuing education programs for business owners. Make positive strides towards attracting and enabling small businesses to succeed in the Shoals.

If the Shoals decides it wants to attract BIG businesses with above-average salaries then seek out the appropriate niche with local leaders and fill it. I'd like to see the Shoals civic and business leaders target specific growth industries that are a good match for the workforce demographics.

Henry Ford and Thomas Edison visited Muscle Shoals in 1921 with the idea of leasing Wilson Dam ( Ford visits Muscle Shoals ) for cheap power. That deal didn't happen then, BUT with a structured, controlled approach to attracting such opportunities those deals are still happening today. Look at all of the auto industry jobs coming to Alabama within the last 5 years alone!

I don't have to tell you that a big piece of Alabama's $3,229,000,000 auto industry and the 11,478 created jobs between 2002 - 2006 would change the course of the Shoals.
( Alabama's Auto Industry )
North American Lighting's 320 jobs was a good start, so keep the momentum up and go get the next one!

I would be thrilled to see the Shoals' auto industry consist of modern plants producing quality parts and vehicles instead of the "auto-salvage corridor" we all enjoy as we enter Florence along Hwy 72. Talk about a serious negative impression.

The Shoals leadership seeking new industries and businesses need the support and assistance of the citizens to make anything concrete happen whatever direction they decide to go.

If local leadership is attentive, as new and better jobs are created in the Shoals, the larger tax base will be become available to provide desperately needed improvements to health care facilities, schools, roadways, utilities, civic/sports arenas, cultural centers and other infrastructure modernizations.

The population will grow again. Real estate values will increase. Businesses will expand their workforces. Schools will need to be built rather than combined and/or closed. Shoals pride will be revitalized.

Once the Shoals, with purpose and on purpose, chooses to move its economy in a positive direction residents will want to stay and perhaps even return to the Shoals to put down roots and enjoy a high quality of life.

Surely that's two cents worth....
Last edited by Ol Grunt

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