CullmanTimes.com - Cullman, Alabama

September 29, 2013

Loretta Gillespie: Industrial base, one of Cullman’s strongest assets


The Cullman Times

CULLMAN — The industrial base of Cullman County rode out the storms of April 27, 2011, with comparatively minor damage. They immediately began to pitch in and help the community, offering manpower and assistance to their employees and neighbors.

The tornadoes are just one incidence of the cooperation between the entities that stand behind Cullman’s industrial base. Because of the willingness of the community leaders and the manufacturers to do whatever it takes to strengthen one of Cullman’s strongest assets, Cullman’s industrial partners have prospered, and in turn, prospered the county and the people who live and work here.

The industries who have wisely chosen to locate here have discovered that this community has a strong work ethic, a loyalty to their employers and a steadfast resolve to get the job done — whether that be in an office, on an assembly line, or with a chainsaw, helping families to dig out of the debris caused by the storms.

Cullman County is a place born of hard work. Long ago, German immigrants came here with nothing but the clothes on their backs and the dream of forming a strong and prosperous community. And that’s exactly what they did. They carved it out of limestone and tall timber, making themselves a niche in North Alabama that has grown and flourished into thriving communities, working family farms, a myriad of industries and the ever-growing complex of shopping centers, a bustling medical district, restaurants and businesses that you see here today.

Some of the original businesses in the historic downtown district and in the outlying farming communities suffered greatly due to the damage caused by the 2011 storms, but even as the dust settled around them, the citizens of Cullman County began to regroup, to protect the investments that their forefathers had secured for them, to ensure the future of their children and their community as a whole. That courageous determination sets the tone for this area, for these people who have hard work encoded into their DNA. They’ve never been afraid of tackling any project, of taking on any task.

Cullman County, rich in natural resources, near main transportation arteries, with excellent school systems and in close proximity to Wallace State Community College, has long been the clear choice for many industries and manufacturers, in part because of it’s varied and unique topography, but primarily because of its strong workforce and willingness to do whatever it takes to bring in new industry and businesses. It’s the commitment of two economic development agencies, local government, community leaders and the people of Cullman County who have made sure that the educational sector, the community, and its industrial base are working in tandem to make this part of North Alabama such a great place to live, work and play. All of these entities, coming together, have succeeded in making this county a driving force in Alabama's economic growth.

Even today, with most of the visible destruction of the tornadoes cleared away, there is still work going on to rebuild the historic downtown area so that it appeals to prospective manufacturers, who always want to see where they might be eating, shopping, going to church or to school, and you can be sure that they sit up and take notice of Cullman!

The dedicated people of Wallace State Community College, the Cullman Area Chamber of Commerce, city and county governments and the Economic Development Boards are continuously working to ensure that every facet of the needs of Cullman’s manufacturing base come together for the benefit of all.

In today's unsteady economy, Cullman continues to flourish, and that's a wonderful thing to be able to say. In other parts of the state, and of the country, people look at Cullman County and wonder how they did this. I think the answer is that people here have learned that the secret to a successful community is working together, knowing that if there are a variety of places to eat, shop, have fun, live, worship, study and work — there will be jobs.