City a step ahead with projects

Published 4:35 pm Thursday, June 4, 2009

By Staff
Months ago, as the faltering economy began to fall even faster, I asked Coastal Gateway Economic Development Authority President Wiley Blankenship what cities and counties should be doing to look toward the future.
His advice was simple: As we wait out the downturn, don’t just sit on your hands. Look at what you can do to improve or create an industrial park, and look at how you can improve quality of life amenities in your community. Those are the kinds of tools that will attract industries who plan to expand or relocate when the economy inevitably improves.
Last Sunday we published a story about the millions of dollars in projects that the City of Brewton is currently pursuing. As work gets under way simultaneously on park renovations, a new middle school, recreation opportunities and infrastructure improvements, it looks as if Brewton took Blankenship’s advice to heart and quickly churned out some new projects.
But the truth is that Brewton officials have been working on these projects for months and months, if not years. You don’t come across millions of dollars in grants easily — it takes research, good writing and hard work to get the attention of federal and state officials.
All told, Brewton has more than $26 million in projects under way, including the $20 million middle school.
But there are also a number of other projects — a demolition grant that will help clean up blighted areas; the renovation of City Park and addition of a walking trail at  Burnt Corn Creek Park; a new splash pad for Dogwood Hills and plans for recreation improvements for Sportsman Park and the old middle school.
Most of those projects are the result of federal and state grants, so the city’s investment is minimal.
But our return can be huge. The better our city looks and the better amenities we can offer, the more new residents and new industries will want to locate here.
Our community leaders have been prescient in making sure that even during an economic downturn, we have new projects that can improve the lives of residents — and have the potential to lure new jobs here.
Kerry Whipple Bean is publisher of The Brewton Standard. She can be reached  at 867-4876 or by e-mail at