Judging by the turnout, interest is high within the community concerning Exit 38. A large number of citizens held officials’ feet to the fire about issues related to this economic development project.
The meeting, which was held on Thursday, June 29, 2017 addressed the current status of Exit 38, biggest impediments to progress, relationships between the City of Tuskegee and Tuskegee University concerning Exit 38, potential for small and local businesses to participate and clarification regarding the Cooperative District.
Joe Turnham, executive director of the Macon County Economic Development Authority (MCEDA) assured the crowd that a lot is happening to move Exit 38 forward. He said much of the current activity involves critical grunt work that has to be done to satisfy developers. He cited the need for studies to confirm that there is a market to support the businesses that set up shop at Exit 38. Those studies have been completed and the data is good news, such as this statistic, “71% of credit card purchases in Macon County come from card holders who do not live in Macon County and they are affluent customers. This shows that a lot of money flows through this community.”
Mayor Tony Haygood said business owners that aspire to make money from Exit 38, need to get ready now, ensuring they have the funds and capacity to get in on the action.
Gerald Long, general manager of the Utilities Board of Tuskegee (UBT) is pleased to see the collaboration and partnerships that Exit 38 has produced saying, “There is power in unity. For too long there has been too much division. Now is the time for unity.” Long also addressed the issue of minority business participation saying, “Whenever federal dollars are involved Disadvantaged Business Enterprises (DBE) participation is required, so definitely there will be minority businesses involved.”
Dwight Davis, compliance officer with the Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) emphasized that it’s not enough to be classified as a minority because of race or ethnicity. He said “You must get certified by an agency such as ALDOT or ADECA.”
Dwight Davis can be reached at email@example.com
The Exit 38 meeting was moderated by Norma Jackson, president of the local Alabama New South Coalition (ANSC).
Following the meeting UBT board member, Ulysees Roberts and UBT general manager, Gerald Long talked about the utility system’s involvement in economic development. Hear their comments by clicking here.