Sustained growth

Local leaders believe the retail growth in the area will continue well into next year.

Excitement over Cullman’s growing retail community is not expected to subside anytime soon.

With all the new businesses opening from this week through the fall, city leaders believe the trend will continue. Cullman Mayor Max Townson said he is also confident a housing boom will follow as work to expand Alabama 157 is fulfilled. He also sees the completion of the interchange at County Road 222 and Interstate 65 has the road to business and residential growth in Good Hope.

“’I think the housing growth will take place over several years because of the road improvements in some key areas, including Alabama 157 and U.S. 278 East. Those are large projects and take time but they will open up new opportunities,” Townson said.

Townson said the retail growth and key road projects are the culmination of a team effort among city and county officials as well as state lawmakers from the area.

“This is probably the biggest year ever as far as seeing new businesses open. I think people will be proud of the new retail stores and restaurants because they will have more reasons to remain here and shop and spend their dollars in their local community,” Townson said.

City council member Andy Page, who like Townson serves on the Cullman Planning Commission, said the new retailers will draw more shoppers in from neighboring counties and increase sales tax receipts for the community.

“We will see more dollars coming in for us to reinvest in the community,” Page said. “We know we will have to look at some of the issues created on our roads, but you have to get the development going and see what you are going to have.”

The opening of the city’s second Walmart Supercenter on the northside of town, Page said, will have a major impact — along with the revitalized Cullman Shopping Center — on existing merchants.

“They will have an opportunity to bring more people into their stores because of the stronger draw Cullman will have in the region. So there are a lot of opportunities at hand,”  Page said. “I think the teamwork is the key, and you can’t stress that enough. Roy Drinkard is like a whole additional force in this, too. His development company is bringing business to the area while the city’s economic development team is working on other projects. It’s a great situation for Cullman.”

Page said he anticipates the level of growth unfolding this year to continue in 2016.

“As a city council member,  we see an opportunity for us and the mayor to continue to provide valuable services to the community because of this growth. And it will keep more people here to shop,” Page said.

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David Palmer has decades of experience in the newspaper industry. He currently serves as editor of The Cullman Times.

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