Posey said the city is currently in a retail boom, with national retailers Hobby Lobby, T.J. Maxx, Petco and Shoe Carnival set to open later this year in the redeveloped Jasper Square shopping center, and Cracker Barrel Old Country Store and Restaurant — one of the country’s most popular family eateries — is under construction just off Industrial Boulevard and slated to open in less than six months.
“We currently have several other retailers trying to put together projects which will further enhance the retail opportunities available to us in the city of Jasper,” Posey said.
The mayor also briefly mentioned a national hotel chain that’s expected to soon announce its plans to build a 120-room hotel adjacent to Cracker Barrel just off Interstate 22.
Posey attributed the influx of retailers to the city to a better working relationship between the city, county and other local entities.
“In my lifetime, there has never been a better working relationship between the city of Jasper, the Walker County Commission, the Chamber of Commerce of Walker County, the City of Jasper Industrial Development Board, the Walker County Economic Development Authority, the Jasper Water Works and Sewer Board, all surrounding water authorities, all surrounding municipalities and our local legislative delegation,” Posey said. “I have never witnessed the kind of cooperation we now enjoy and are cultivating on a daily basis with all of these and other entities, both locally and on a state and federal level.”
Posey said the city was also considered for the Remington firearms plant that announced plans last week to locate in Huntsville.
“How many of you knew that we were in the mix for that plant?” Posey asked. “Surprised? I bet you are.”
The plant is expected to create 2,400 jobs in Huntsville, Posey said.
“Do you really think that will be the only firearms manufacturer that will be looking to relocate to our area?” he asked. “I fully expect to hear from and talk to others who will be doing the same thing in the near future. These folks don’t want to locate where they’re not welcome. Therefore, they will be looking to relocate to areas such as ours who will appreciate their presence and welcome their jobs and, in my opinion, that has nothing to do with your or my opinion about firearms, but rather it is all about jobs created so that will give you a hint to stay tuned for new developments in that and related industries.”
Posey also discussed the city’s need to construct a new speculative building at the new Jasper Industrial Park after the Tom Bevill Industrial Park was recently filled.
“We already have prospects looking regularly even without a building in place,” he said.
Posey said the city, through lots of hard work, has been designated as an “advantage site” in cooperation with the Alabama Department of Commerce.
“That means we are prepared with all infrastructure and prepared properties to begin location on short notice,” he said. “You might say, we are ‘shovel ready.’”
That, he said, includes having water, sewer, electricity, natural gas and railroad accessibility at the new industrial park.
“Good things are going on currently, and let’s keep all our fingers crossed that we will be reaping more benefits in the near future.
Posey also briefly discussed construction of the new Walker High School on Viking Drive — which he described as “one of the most important projects initiated during my time in city government” — and the city’s participation in ATRIP grants that will help with repaving on Walston Bridge Road, Airport Road, Viking Drive, Ninth Avenue and Old Birmingham Highway.
The city has budgeted $52 million for construction of the high school, Posey said, which will be covered with a bond issuance expected to be finalized in the next few weeks.
The ATRIP repaving projects, including grants, local monies and engineering costs, is expected to cost between $12-$15 million.
“Our city is finacially sound as we have remained throughout the economic downturn, which is hopefully winding down,” Posey said. “We do our best to be good stewards of your tax dollars, and I would like to thank every member of the city council, all city department heads and city employees who help make our community the great place to live, work and raise our families that it is.”