Woods sets the table







Clyde Woods, standing at left, newly elected chairman of the Blount County Economic Development Council, addresses the commission work session last week. He described challenges facing the 15-member group as it prepares to assume its appointed burden of catching up with 22 neighboring counties, all of whom have development organizations in place, many for a number of years. Also standing, from the left, are Kelley Cochran-Stone, vice chairperson of the council, and council members Waymon Pitts, Evan Ray, and John Brothers. Challenging facts presented by Woods: Blount County is 54th of 67 counties in the state in total tourism dollars, ahead of only the Black Belt counties. Blount County has 117 jobs in the travel/tourism industry, compared to 1300 for Marshall County, 2100 for Cullman County, and 26,000 for Jefferson County. At a rate of 1 percent, Blount County is tied with Winston and Lawrence Counties for lowest employment growth in the area; 70 percent of Blount County workers are employed outside of Blount County, a statistic the council hopes to improve. The biggest immediate task is to generate operating money. Woods said that while matching grants may be a significant source of funding, ‘We still need funds to use to match, because right now,’ he said,‘there ain’t nuthin’ in the bucket.’ Telling the commission ‘I’m asking you to commit to help us with that,’ Woods said the council is considering a contribution request of $2 per citizen for each municipality and $2 per citizen for unincorporated areas.‘We’re going to have to put our big boy pants on to get it done,’ he said. – Ron Gholson

Clyde Woods, standing at left, newly elected chairman of the Blount County Economic Development Council, addresses the commission work session last week. He described challenges facing the 15-member group as it prepares to assume its appointed burden of catching up with 22 neighboring counties, all of whom have development organizations in place, many for a number of years. Also standing, from the left, are Kelley Cochran-Stone, vice chairperson of the council, and council members Waymon Pitts, Evan Ray, and John Brothers. Challenging facts presented by Woods: Blount County is 54th of 67 counties in the state in total tourism dollars, ahead of only the Black Belt counties. Blount County has 117 jobs in the travel/tourism industry, compared to 1300 for Marshall County, 2100 for Cullman County, and 26,000 for Jefferson County. At a rate of 1 percent, Blount County is tied with Winston and Lawrence Counties for lowest employment growth in the area; 70 percent of Blount County workers are employed outside of Blount County, a statistic the council hopes to improve. The biggest immediate task is to generate operating money. Woods said that while matching grants may be a significant source of funding, ‘We still need funds to use to match, because right now,’ he said,‘there ain’t nuthin’ in the bucket.’ Telling the commission ‘I’m asking you to commit to help us with that,’ Woods said the council is considering a contribution request of $2 per citizen for each municipality and $2 per citizen for unincorporated areas.‘We’re going to have to put our big boy pants on to get it done,’ he said. – Ron Gholson