Mayors Huddle on Game Plan

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According to officials from the Alabama Development Office, efforts to create an economic alliance between Mississippi and Alabama are picking up steam.

"We've had several companies that are very interested in how we're progressing with that alliance and working together, and they're excited about having the opportunity of leveraging the congressional delegation from Mississippi and Alabama and getting their needs fulfilled," said Anita Archie, deputy director of the Alabama Development Office.

Archie was one of the featured guests for a first ever conference meeting for mayors from throughout the Alabama Black Belt, held Friday in Livingston at the University of West Alabama.

"I think that the sentiment that's being expressed here is for regionalism and cooperation and that's the whole emphasis behind this, to get the mayors to work together for common issues," said Dr. James Mock, director of UWA's Center for Community Economic Development.

To further assist the mayors in working to bring more development to each town, later this spring UWA will sponsor certification classes for town officials. The classes will be offered starting in April at UWA's Higher Education Center in Demopolis.

The cost for each class is about $80.00. Those who helped spearhead the classes say it's well worth it.

"It's very important for you to understand about zoning and what comprises a particular zone. So you're not putting a business right in a residential area," said Mayor Cecil Williamson of Demopolis.

Officials with the Alabama Development Office say efforts are still underway to establish a major automotive mega-site along the Twin State's border.

"We've heard about there are a couple that possibly will be looking for U.S. facilities maybe locating here," said Archie. "So we want to make sure that they know that we have this unique opportunity, that they could be, to get more money and incentives on the table for them to locate in the area that needs it."

Before this can happen, Archie says lawmakers in both Mississippi and Alabama must first approve final details on how the Twin State Alliance will work.

While it's still uncertain exactly where the possible site could be, Alabama officials say one thing is for sure, that it is likely to be located along an interstate highway.