Demopolis Sets Sights on Industry

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With just over 8,700 residents, Demopolis, Ala., is thriving while many neighboring townships are struggling just to survive. Economic development officials say part of the key to Demopolis' success has been industries.

"You know, some of these towns that were nothing but textile mills, they have gotten hurt by these cheaper imports, whereas we don't live and die with one industry," said John Cox Webb, chairman of Demopolis Industrial Development.

Webb says the city is fortunate to have at least five industries in the area to support its workforce. He says the key to attracting the industries has been the school system.

"It's the only public school system, to my knowledge, that is within 50 miles that's totally integrated," said Webb. "And as one industrial recruiter told us, that impressed him, because if you can't go to school together, how are you going to work together?"

It's that spirit of working together that Webb says he hopes will help the city attract more jobs.

Currently, economic development officials said they are waiting to find out if Demopolis has been chosen as the sight for a new industry that could employ as many as 300 people. Officials say they are not at liberty to say any more about the industry other than that it could be located near the airport.

While there are several industries in the general area, Webb says Demopolis has found most if its success in attracting service and retail businesses. The problem in landing large industries, he says, has been transportation.

"We just recently had a second-tier automotive company that looked at us and they like us, but the four lanes were not here," Webb said, "so they elected not to come here."

However, with work now underway to four-lane Highway 80 to Cuba, Ala., Webb says he's hopeful that this will soon be a problem of the past.

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