The Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama welcomed local officials for the 2020 Chamber in Session: State of the Community, presented by TTL, Inc. on October 15. Matt Feller, Vice Chair for Public Policy for the Chamber’s Board of Directors, moderated the event, which was presented via Remo virtual platform.
Mayor Donna Aaron of the City of Northport, Mayor Walt Maddox of the City of Tuscaloosa, and Probate Judge Rob Robertson of Tuscaloosa County tackled a variety of topics, including an attendee Q&A.
COVID-19 was at the forefront of the discussion.
“County government is in a unique situation,” said Robertson. “One of the things we have strived to do was to work together and continue to provide nonstop services throughout this entire ordeal. We’ve had to change how we’ve had to deliver the services, but we’ve kept functioning and I’m very appreciative of the team.”
Robertson said keeping people safe and working is essential.
Maddox said he was proud of the successes, especially keeping COVID-19 patient numbers as low as possible within the DCH System. “The unprecedented cooperation between the university, DCH, and our local governments has meant that we’ve saved a lot of jobs, and we’ve saved a lot of lives,” he said. We wanted to make sure that DCH had the capacity to not only treat coronavirus but also patients with other needs.”
Maddox also thanked Gov. Kay Ivey for her assistance in giving municipalities the ability to take the action they needed to protect their communities.
Aaron discussed spending plans for Northport for the one-cent sales tax that would invest the money into enjoyment/recreation, economic, responsible “buckets.” The plan invests the funding into parks, streetscaping, services, and other improvements for the community.
“These include educational opportunities for schools within the city of Northport,” she said. “It gives the schools programs they would not be able to otherwise afford through the county board.”
Maddox provided an Elevate Tuscaloosa update, telling attendees they would be able to track the Elevate timeline and expenses via the website. He also said the city has leveraged Elevate to date for $26 million to improve Tuscaloosa.
He also gave project updates on the Western Riverwalk, Northern Riverwalk, River District Park, and Airport Runway Improvements.
“In the end Elevate is going to take our community to the next level. We were blessed to have Elevate during this pandemic,” Maddox said. “With it, we were able to help hundreds of small businesses through Restart Tuscaloosa. We couldn’t have done that without the Chamber, and the Small Business Relief Fund, and I’m really proud of that. I’m proud of that partnership with the Chamber and the Community Foundation.”
All three officials said that the pandemic delivered an opportunity to take a close look at the budgeting process and make adjustments.
With respect to the future, opportunity, collaboration, and growth were the goals looking ahead.
“Combining all our opportunities and people working together between workforce, education and local government, you can really get something done,” Robertson said. “I’m positive on our economic development outlook and opportunities. I think we’re about to see some exciting things happening.”
Chamber in Session: State of the Community was presented by TTL, Inc.
Gold Sponsors were Tuscaloosa Tourism & Sports and WhiteSky Communications.
Silver Sponsors were BBVA, the Frazer Lanier Company, the Paragon HM Wealth Management Group at Morgan Stanley, the Tuscaloosa County Commission, and Ward Scott Architecture.
Bronze Sponsors were Community Service Programs of West Alabama, Fast Signs Tuscaloosa, Hudson-Poole Fine Jewelers, Simplified Medical Management, and Warrior Met Coal.
Table Sponsors were Alabama ONE, BankFirst, Buffalo Rock-Pepsi, Building & Earth Sciences, Inc., Chesapeake Consulting, Inc., City of Tuscaloosa, District Attorney's Office, JamisonMoneyFarmer, PC, Michael McGuire State Farm Insurance Co., Raymond James, Synovus, Tuscaloosa City Board of Education, Tuscaloosa Coca-Cola Bottling Company, Tuscaloosa County Board of Education, University of Alabama System, Way, Ray, Shelton & Company, P.C.