Outlook for business recruitment improves
Steps have been taken by the past three administrations of city government to strengthen Hartselle's position with respect to the recruitment of new business.
In 1997, the city council appropriated about $100,000 to install a traffic light and make other intersection improvements on Highway 31 in support of a new Wal-Mart Supercenter.
The economic impact was immediate and dramatic. The store attracted many new customers, some of whom lived as far away as Moulton, Addison and Cullman. In the following weeks, a trend of declining sales tax revenues was reversed and more money was made available for public services. The city's investment in new infrastructure has since been repaid many times over. Plus, the Supercenter's presence has led to the establishment of several other new businesses in the area.
The next administration took on the challenge of promoting the commercial development of the I-65 and Highway 36 interchange. In 2002, the city council agreed to build a service road with utilities infrastructure at a cost of $250,000 to facilitate the location of a new motel-Country Hearth Inn-and open up a proposed 10-acre commercial development to other business prospects. While efforts to bring in a family restaurant to help support the motel and spur further business growth have not materialized, the potential for the commercial development of this area remains very positive.
Another business development initiative was decided at the ballot box in 2004 when voters from Hartselle and Morgan County combined approved a constitutional amendment affecting only the city of Hartselle. The amendment allows the city to purchase, develop, own or lease property for the purpose of generating additional sales and use tax revenue. It also permits the city to issue special bonds as a means of financing commercial development projects, the tax revenue from which would be used to retire them.
The current administration recently took another bold step to bring business to the interstate when it agreed to purchase 18.8 acres of prime commercial property located in the southeast corner of I-65 and Highway 36. This move was made to help facilitate a search for a developer who is willing to help the city locate market-gap businesses there.
The history of business growth in Hartselle dispels the idea that all you have to do to get the businesses you want and need is to open the door. To be successful in today's competitive environment requires a great deal of planning, some risk-taking and lots of personal contacts. Fortunately for us all of this is a part of an on-going business recruitment regimen, and the outlook is good.
What do you think? What types of businesses are needed in Hartselle?
Send your thoughts to P.O. Box 929, Hartselle, AL 35640 or email to email@example.com. Signed comments can be included as Letters to the Editor; unsigned ones in our E-Sound Off.