Cullman may not be a big place, but for eight years running, its reputation as a sound place to live, play, and be productive has made big waves among national business leaders, investors, developers, economic leaders, and others with a financial stake in finding the right U.S.-based home for their industrial investment to take root and thrive.
For the eighth year in a row, the Cullman micropolitan area has made the short top-ten list of Site Selection magazine’s annual ranking of the nation’s best micropolitan communities. The ranking puts Cullman in enviable company for similarly-sized areas nationwide: It appears as the No. 4 micropolitan on this year’s list, out of more than 500 under consideration.
The magazine bases its rankings on the number of industrial and economic development projects in a given area that meet certain criteria. Those include projects within a single year that create 20 or more new jobs, add 20,000 or more square feet of productive space, or reflect at least $1 million in capital investment — or some combination of the three.
Since the magazine first began its annual ratings in 2001, this year marks the 17th time the Cullman area has appeared in the magazine’s top 20. There were 550 micropolitans — communities anchored by a primary city of between 10,000 and 50,000 people — up for consideration on this year’s list.
Local leaders credited strong city-county partnerships, an active and business-friendly climate, residents who value their community, and an increasing commitment to workforce development in helping the Cullman area stand out.
“Ranking No. 4 is a pretty remarkable achievement that reflects well on the companies, the workforce, the diversity of the industrial base, and the Cullman community,” said Dale Greer, director of the Cullman Economic Development Office, in a statement responding to the news. “Ranking in the top ten one time, in a pool of 550 communities nationwide, is a lofty achievement, and it’s something that makes us proud. Earning that distinction year after year validates that Cullman County industries are flourishing here.”
“I am certainly proud of the No. 4 ranking,” added Cullman County Commission chairman Jeff Clemons in the joint statement. “It shows we have a strong economy where companies continue to create jobs and invest in our county. We work together and support industry because it means jobs for Cullman Countians.”
Cullman Mayor Woody Jacobs echoed his leadership colleagues in attributing the area’s appeal to new and expanding industries to its people and its overall attitude toward growth.
“Industry grows where it is welcomed and supported,” he said. “When city and county governments, education facilities, utility providers, and economic development agencies have a goal of helping industry prosper, a lot of good things happen. Add the quality, hard-working, reliable workforce found in Cullman to that mix and it is a recipe for success.”