Published 7:22 pm Wednesday, June 4, 2003
New facility can serve as catalyst for economy
More or less overlooked in the rush to land an industry tied into the Hyundai plant to be constructed in Hope Hull, Brewton none the less received good news on the job and economic front last week. Local Internet company Econec announced plans to expand its operation and locate a 175-employee customer service call center here.
Brewton mayor Ted Jennings called the situation "win-win" at Tuesday's city council meeting, but he may have left one or two wins out. Not only will the expansion bring much needed jobs to our area and provide an economic boost through its $1 million annual payroll, but the business will be located in one of Brewton's several empty buildings. Rather than construct a new building, the call center will occupy a renovated former clothing store at the far southern end of Brewton Plaza. Those renovations are expected to cost about $150,000 and will help anchor the shopping center with two strong, and large, businesses.
Economic development is often a balancing act, trying to weigh the good of the community with the needs of incoming business. It can also be viewed as a spiral, either moving upward and outward (growing) or inward and down (shrinking).
By locating in a shopping center, which still has several, smaller empty spaces available, the service center can serve as a lure to attract additional restaurants and other retailers seeking to locate in close proximity to 175 workers. And while in many cases a retailer will not employ the great number of people that an industry might, it is through those retailers that a substantial amount of sales tax revenue is generated and also the process of money cycling through the economy begins to pick up speed.
In our view, Econec's announcement was an important one for our area's economy, and can serve as a catalyst to additional economic growth. The key players who brought the project together and the organizations that formed a working partnership to make the dream a reality are to be commended for having the vision to create such an opportunity.