Norris to speak at chamber breakfast

Experienced money manager to share views

The monthly Blount County—Oneonta Chamber of Commerce breakfast will be held at Twin Oaks on Nov. 19, beginning at 7:30 a.m. The program will be moved from the customary fourth Wednesday of the month so as not to conflict with the Thanksgiving holidays.

Everyone has a concern about the economy and whether a recession is looming with the rising unemployment, credit issues, and the financial meltdown on Wall Street. In order to bring a level of clarity to these issues, the chamber will present John B. Norris V, Managing Director of Wealth Management and Investment Services for Oakworth Capital Bank. He has more than 16 years of experience in the money management industry. Before joining Oakworth, Mr. Norris was Chief Economist, Chairman of Investment Strategy Committee, and a Senior Fund Manager for Regions Financial Corporation’s Morgan Asset Management subsidiary. Before joining Regions, Mr. Norris served as Chief Investment Officer for the Trust Company of Sterne, Agee, and Leach Inc. He started his professional career in 1991 with Mercantile-Safe Deposit and Trust Company in Baltimore, as an institutional fixed-income portfolio manager.

Mr. Norris frequently appears in various national and local media as an expert on the economy and the markets and is currently a guest columnist to The Montgomery Advertiser’s Sunday business section. He was named to the Birmingham Business Journal’s (BBJ) “Who’s Who in Banking and Finance in 2004,” the BBJ’s “Top 40 Under 40 for 2007” and Global Register’s “Who’s Who in Executives and Professionals” for 2006-07. He received his bachelor of arts degree in 1990 from Wake Forest University and his master’s of business administration in 1994 from the University of Baltimore.

As an added treat, former Regions Oneonta Bank President Sam Scalici will accompany John. Sam was a very active member and officer of the chamber when he worked in Oneonta.

Please accept this as a personal invitation to learn about the state of the economy, possible problems, and future trends and pitfalls.

Breakfast Sponsor

New Beacon Hospice, a great chamber member, will be sponsoring the November program. It is the corporate generosity and civic spirit of New Beacon that allows the chamber to present such an illustrious speaker as John Norris.

New Beacon was the first Medicare-certified hospice agency in the State of Alabama. The company has been serving Blount County since 1979. In this time, New Beacon has built a longstanding reputation with our citizens. Most families in Blount County have been touched at some point through the ministry provided by this organization of caring individuals.

New Beacon Hospice provides consistent, compassionate support for those facing lifelimiting illnesses. Professionals are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The care administered by staff is personalized to meet each patient’s individual needs. Workers understand the challenges patients and families have as they deal with a terminal illness.

We all have a choice when it comes to hospice care. New Beacon is committed to help patients and families live each day to its fullest. If anyone has questions, a need for their service or more information, or would like to volunteer with New Beacon, please visit their website at or call 205-274-0549.

Unemployment Rate

The Alabama Department of Industrial Relations released the September unemployment rate for Alabama and its 67 counties Oct. 17. The released rate shows an increase to 5.3 percent in September, up from 4.9 percent in October and 3.5 percent in September 2007.

Department Director Tom Surtees said, “Even with this slight increase in the unemployment rate, Alabama’s economy remains strong due to the continued creation of jobs in our state. Alabama remains well below the national unemployment rates of 6.1 percent and continues to have one of the lowest rates in the South.” Only Louisiana at 5.2 percent has a lower unemployment rate than Alabama among the southern states.

There was a net increase of 2500 wage and salary jobs in Alabama. The majority of growth occurred in the education component of state and local government (+9,700). Manufacturing and construction jobs continued to be lost.

The lowest county rates for September were as follows: 1) Shelby, 3.6 percent; 2) Madison County, 3.8 percent; 3) Baldwin, Blount, and Tuscaloosa, 4.3 percent; 6) Coffee and Limestone, 4.4 percent.

The highest county rates for September are as follows: 67) Chambers, 14.5 percent; 66) Wilcox, 13.4 percent; 65) Bullock, 11.5 percent; 64) Dallas, 11.1 percent; and 63) Perry, 10.7 percent.

Blount County continues a remarkable period of several months of low unemployment, a testament to a great local work ethic, job creation within the county, and a commuting workforce. During September, there were 26,615 citizens in Blount’s civilian labor force. Those employed numbered 25,462, and the unemployed numbered 1,153, a jobless increase of 60 from last month.

These five states posted the lowest unemployment rates for September 2008: 1) South Dakota, 3.2 percent; 2) Wyoming, 3.3 percent; 3) Nebraska and Utah, 3.5 percent; 5) North Dakota, 3.6 percent. Alabama ranked twentyfourth with 5.3 percent.

Following are the five states with the highest unemployment rates for September: 51*) Rhode Island, 8.8 percent; 50) Michigan, 8.7 percent; 49) Mississippi, 7.8 percent; 48) California, 7.7 percent; 46) South Carolina, 7.3 percent; and Nevada, 7.3 percent. (The District of Columbia is ranked along with the 50 states.)


Recently The Huntsville Times published a listing of a dozen sites where beautiful fall foliage can be viewed across the state. One of those sites is Blount County where the three covered bridges and Palisades Park offer excellent viewing points for the foliage. The Covered Bridge Festival drew visitors from out of the area to enjoy the scenery which is also featured in the new chamber video, Blount County the Beautiful.

Good news continues to come into the area with business and industry development and low unemployment in troubling economic times. All the more reason to come to the chamber breakfast on Nov. 19, and hear John Norris explain the times we are in today.

By working together, we are making a very good community even better.