Jobs at issue in ads; candidates square off on experience
With economic development and jobs at the top of many voters’ lists of important issues, both candidates in Brewton’s mayoral runoff race have touted their credentials, but one candidate said he has been wrongly blamed for not securing jobs for the city.
Yank Lovelace, who won the most votes in the Aug. 28 election but not enough to secure the seat without a runoff against Frank Nalty, states in his campaign literature that he has served as a member of the Brewton Industrial Revenue Board and as chairman of the Coastal Gateway Economic Development Authority.
Ads from Nalty’s campaign in recent days have said that Lovelace served on the industrial development board “without any plan” for new jobs, and that Brewton has had no new jobs in 10 years.
Nalty, who himself serves on the city’s planning commission, said he was referring to Lovelace’s seats on both the city industrial board and the Coastal Gateway EDA board in his ads.
Lovelace said the Coastal Gateway EDA board was formed to market a three-county area, which has now grown to five counties, for economic development.
City Clerk John Angel said the city’s industrial development board, for which Lovelace previously served, has met twice in the past 10 years. Its job, Angel said, is also marketing.
“They look at bond issues” as incentives for new industries that are already interested in Brewton, he said.
The Brewton Development Authority, for which Broox Garrett serves as chairman, and the Escambia County Industrial Development Authority are the industrial recruiting groups for the city and county, Angel said.
“The Brewton Development Authority is the horsepower behind getting business contacts,” Angel said.
Angel also noted that the Brewton Industrial Park over the past decade has seen all of its spec buildings occupied but one. Silgan, formerly IPEC, recently expanded and hired new employees, and McArdle Enterprises also brought a new business employing about seven people in 2006.
“We’ve had some bites, but no takers,” Angel said. “There are people looking at (the building).”
Lovelace said Coastal Gateway, for which he no longer serves on the board, has also brought new jobs to the region, but no one person can take the credit for that.
“Economic development takes a lot of years and a lot of people working together,” Lovelace said.
For his part, Nalty has noted his experience with the Natural Resources Conservation Service and the Escambia County Soil and Water Conservation District, through which he serves on the Gulf Coast Resource Conservation and Development Council, which recently secured grant funding for two projects in Escambia County — at Brooks Hines Lake and at the Brewton Area YMCA. Nalty said he has made state and federal contacts through those organizations and as district governor for the Rotary Club, which would help him in the role of mayor.