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March 7, 2022 Group Watch: Rural Alabama Project Pipeline Sparks New Growth

Bryant Whaley, the top economic developer for Randolph County, is riding the momentum. Despite the disruptions of a global pandemic, this rural county in eastern Alabama has seen three major corporate growth projects since August 2020, creating more than 300 jobs. Whaley is optimistic that even more economic activity is on the way. Recently, plans were announced for a retail development there that will create 40 jobs. Victory Game Clocks, a Roanoke-based maker of scoreboards, play clocks, practice timers and other sports timing devices, is considering an expansion with a new 20,000-square-foot building and 20 additional employees. Companies in many different industries are waking up to the fact that Alabama’s rural counties have a lot to offer. At the top of the list are factors such as a low cost of doing business and motivated workforces that get the job done. On the state level, one development that’s poised to spur growth in Alabama’s rural areas is a significant expansion of the availability of high-speed internet service, considered a critical element for sustained economic growth. The legislature recently approved a plan to use $277 million of the state’s share of the American Rescue Plan Act to expand broadband available with rural communities set to perhaps benefit the most.

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