Rural Development

Persistence is the key. That's according to Alabama Cong. Arthur Davis. He says persistence is what led the town of Pennington to be chosen to receive federal funding to improve its sewage system.

The news was announced Monday as part of a day-long tour sponsored by Cong. Davis for state community and business leaders to show them first hand what west Alabama has to offer.

With Alabama facing its biggest budget deficit ever, Davis says the chances of landing another major industry in the state are slim but not impossible.

"Other people are going to be able to out bid us for the next several years. We're going to have to go back to the drawing board and see how we make our sewage treatment competitive. How we make use of the job training structures and how we make use of the capacity buildings we've already got," says Davis.

Another major concern is roads. For example, Davis says one big problem is the region's lack of easy access to the interstate. Although interstates are not needed everywhere, he says in some areas roads must be four-laned or at least repaired. He calls roads the basics when it comes to attracting industries.

The concern now is funding. That's why as part of the tour Davis invited the co-chairman of the Delta Regional Authority, a federal agency which provides supplemental funding for more than 200 rural counties in 8 states. However, compared to its $30 million budget five years ago, agency officials say funding for next year is not looking good.

"Now we think our budget could be anywhere from $2 to $10 million," says Federal Co-Chairman Pete Johnson.

Davis says that amount is not only not enough, but also equivalent to about a penny compared to $3.6 trillion budget Congress oversees.

However, with only 25 percent of the congressmen elected by constituents in rural areas, Davis says fighting for adequate funding for these areas requires not only his efforts but those of everyone involved.