The City of Oneonta received a silver excellence in economic development award last week from the International Economic Development Council (IEDC) at its annual conference in Atlanta. The award was for the ongoing, multi-year partnership with Wallace State Community College leading to the establishment of the Wallace State campus center here, triggering a transformative change in the local economy and in the outlook of the business, educational, and citizen communities generally.
“We were able to succeed with this project because of the exceptional team of people who collaborated from the beginning on this effort,” Lowe said. They cared, they care, and they really worked at it. We had great community tenacity over the period of time it took to set the stage for this and bring it to fruition, and Wallace State itself has been a great, great partner. To be recognized for an educational partnership project by an international economic development body – to me, that’s special.”
Lowe said other major partners besides Wallace State included the Blount County Commission, the county legislative delegation, Gov. Kay Ivey, HomeTown Bank, the Blount County Economic Development Council, and the other municipalities in the county who supported the effort at critical times.
“A lot of this started a few years ago with the request of citizens to reinvigorate downtown. Our path to doing that turned out to be focusing on post-secondary education and workforce development with Wallace State,” Lowe said.
Here are some outtakes from the description of the project’s significance and impact. “…Oneonta has never seen anything like this before…there has never been (until now) a post secondary education option available in our city or county…more businesses have moved in… sales taxes are on the rise… more restaurants have come…businesses have started to improve the facades of their buildings…we’re getting letters from students thanking us for bringing the campus to life…providing training students need to work and live locally… overall economic impact…brought the city back to life…(city is) functioning more efficiently and on the rise in all areas… pleased citizens…new ideas emerging… has given us hope…the town is no longer dying…city will flourish for years and years to come…”