Our View: Now is the time for retail growth
by Daily Mountain Eagle
Jun 02, 2013 | 401 views | 0 0 comments | 23 23 recommendations | email to a friend | print
This past week Belk celebrated its 125th anniversary with an open house event at its Jasper Mall location. There was music. There was food. There were a few speeches.

And then there was spending.

There is no doubt that retail growth has been stymied in Jasper and Walker County in recent years due to the economic downturn. But we believe wholeheartedly that our neck of the woods is now ripe for a retail explosion.

While we realize our traffic count may not be as abundant as Cullman’s, we challenge anyone to navigate old U.S. 78 during morning rush hour, lunchtime or evening rush hour.

And construction on the final piece of I-22, or Corridor X, as it connects with I-65 just north of Birmingham is slated for completion during the second half of 2014. What once use to be an hour’s drive to the big city will soon take less then 30 minutes from much of Walker County.

Thus, it is up to us — economic development folks and city and county leaders — to work together today so that we are well positioned to keep our consumers here tomorrow.

Earlier this year the Chamber of Commerce of Walker County earmarked thousands of dollars over several years to team up with Birmingham-based Retail Strategies and prioritize retail growth here.

And it appears the fruits of that joint venture may very well come to fruition. With the help of a requested $1.5 million incentive package from the City of Jasper we could be on the verge of that elusive retail explosion that many cities our size in Alabama and around the country have already enjoyed.

Would it not be nice to have some of the same retail big box stores and storefronts that currently contribute tax money to nearby cities and counties? Perhaps a T.J. Maxx, Ross Department Store, Academy Sports, Hobby Lobby, and dare we say, a Carmike Theater?

Retail growth is within our grasp if local landowners, developers, city and county leaders and economic development folks work together for the betterment of our community. Our fate is in our hands.

— Daily Mountain Eagle