HDB here for community
Robert Francis, Guest columnist
Not many in Hartselle know that the Hartselle Development Board exists. Of those that do, few know of its purpose and, based on personal conversations and observations, public consensus is that this is "just another board."
The HDB is a key organization in Hartselle's economic future. Community understanding and support are crucial to its success.
To help inform the general public, build credibility, gain support and secure advocacy for the board, I'm developing a series of newspaper articles along the following outline:
Hartselle's deficiencies in retail offerings have been recognized for years. The most recent study emphasizing this was a development strategy prepared in1995 by the University Center for Economic Development, The University of Alabama.
Hartselle has had an appealing, easy-off, easy-on interstate interchange for 30 years that, until very recently, has not been exploited. In the meantime, we gained another interchange now giving us two interchanges that are significantly underdeveloped. The I-65 corridor study completed in May 2002 served as a stimulant to do something about this but after 30 years of dormancy bringing new business if difficult and challenging. In today's climate, new business seldom "just comes."
Equally important is inner-city development and backfill of vacated commercial buildings.
This is what the HDB is all about – an organization to spearhead Hartselle's potential, belated commercial and industrial development, thereby improving the city's economic competitiveness in the North Alabama area. With that will come financial relief to the city and more shop-at-home opportunities for residents.
Robert Francis is a retired civil engineer and a charter member and current chairman of the Hartselle Development Board.