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Economy rebounding in county

When it comes to economic development, Morgan County is showing signs of recovery from a deep recession that most metropolitan areas can only dream about.

For example, Site Selection Magazine named the Decatur Metropolitan area No. 1 in business development in 2011, from areas with 200,000 or less population.

The Decatur area’s high ranking resulted mainly from the high number of qualified new industries and expansions that were announced in 2011. Decatur had 13 that met the magazine’s criteria.

For the year, Decatur-Morgan County had $420 million in announced investment projects that are expected to create 375 jobs. They include two news industries, Excel Interior Door in Hartselle and Polyplex USA in Decatur. Combined, they invested nearly $189 million and expect to hire 185 workers.

Another positive indicator of continued economic improvement is the outlook of existing companies. In a survey involving local companies, two-thirds indicated they plan to expand operations within the next three years, up from less than half in 2010. Also 96 per cent of businesses responding to the survey reported increased or stable sales in 2011.

The good news continues with the progress that was made in the past year getting the new Morgan Center Business Park ready to open.

A sewer main was installed from the Hartselle-Morgan County Industrial Park to the business park’s entrance on Byrd and Thompson Roads in Hartselle. In addition, work is progressing on the realignment of Byrd Road to form a three-lane paved and curbed and guttered roadway at the park entrance. When a gas main and electric service are relocated and underground infrastructure is installed inside the park’s 135 acres, business sites will be shovel ready for construction. That is expected to occur no later than August of this year.

As the local economy continues to recover and the development projects that have been announced reach fruition, the demand for skilled labor will grow. That’s good news to everyone, especially those who have lost jobs and are eager to re-enter the workforce.