The Cullman Area Chamber of Commerce met an important goal in its five-year Converging for Success plan with the announcement this week that $1.75 million has been secured to continue the plan’s effort.

Campaign Co-Chair Jason Grimmett told business leaders and public officials a lot of progress has been made since the official kickoff of Converging for Success in February.

The plan, which is aimed at building stronger economic opportunities, expanding the cultural environment, creating an inviting and innovative entrepreneurial and investment scene, and pulling together resources and expertise into a focused center, was developed through a lengthy period of community input.

Chamber President and CEO Leah Bolin said the intent of the five-year development plan is to involve a wide range of community interests into an effective team. That approach is what Cullman County has needed.

The community watched with excitement for years as new retail businesses arrived and industries invested and expanded. Today, the value of tying together ideas and resources is to ensure growth that is measured and benefits residents.

In discussions and research that led to this plan, the need to attract more professional jobs, expand cultural activities, intensify entrepreneurship and promoting or advocating the unique qualities of local community life and business all came to the table, along with other community needs.

The process of surveying and engaging people has been healthy. Most people look around and see an area enjoying unprecedented business growth. Unemployment is low. New retail stores and restaurants are continuing to open in Cullman. Local investors continue to come forward.

Some people may ask: What else do we need?

We certainly want the growth trend to continue, and local economic development officials indicate inquiries from potential investors are ongoing.

Nonetheless, the desire in putting development into focus through a five-year plan is to ensure growth continues and yields long-term benefits for the area.

There is also a need to further diversify the economic opportunities by bringing a greater number of higher-paying jobs to our community. 

This will not only attract new families to the area, it might lure others who left for professional careers to come back home.

A greater mix of jobs brings more ideas, efforts to improve the quality of life and a greater ability to turn problems into positives.

We are encouraged to see the ambitions of a cross section of Cullman residents reflected in the five-year plan.

Quality of life and economic development are characteristics that walk hand-in-hand.

Converging for Success captures much of the spirit and drive responsible for the establishment and growth of Cullman by its founders and those who have followed in their footsteps.

With respect to their “can-do” attitude forged by an approach of a collective force, sustainable growth and prosperity will be with our community long after the five-year plan.

We applaud the success of year one of Converging for Success and look forward to success building success.

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