Of course, having Gov. Robert Bentley as its keynote speaker did not hurt the turnout of the Chamber’s annual banquet. In fact, the event was not highly publicized because once Gov. Bentley committed, corporate tables sold like hotcakes at an election-day pancake fry.
Gov. Bentley visited downtown businesses and spent time with mentally and physically challenged folks at the George Lindsey Dream Field at Memorial Park prior to his speaking engagement.
While the governor received accolades for his visit on the eve of a gubernatorial election year, I submit that it pales in comparison to the collective efforts of local Forward Walker County investors who stepped up and knocked the ball out of the park.
Forward Walker County is the Chamber’s five-year plan that targets retail and commercial growth, education and workforce readiness, tourism and image and leadership and community engagement.
With the help of Austin-based Funding Solutions in recent months, Chamber President Linda Lewis combed the county for contributors. The fundraising goal was set at $700,000, or $140,000 per year.
One by one, private business folks pledged their hard-earned dollars while public entities such as county and municipal governments had to decide how much to siphon from the public’s trust.
Despite some naysayers at the beginning of the campaign, Forward Walker County garnered overwhelming support to the tune of $1,124,000. That’s a whopping 63 percent over goal.
Indeed, all investors of Forward Walker County were the true honored guests Tuesday. Kudos to each and every one of us!
But I would like to give special mention to the Walker County Commission and City of Jasper for their bookend pledges of $50,000 per year, or $250,000 over the course of the five-year plan. The county commission was one of the first government agencies back in June to vote unanimously to support Forward Walker County. Commissioners Keith Davis, Dan Wright, Bobby Nunnelley and Steven Aderholt had the foresight to give the campaign the boost it needed early in the game.
And the final piece of the successful fundraising campaign came only hours prior to Tuesday’s noon banquet when Jasper City Council members Jed Daniel, Danny Gambrell, Gary Cowen, Jennifer Smith and Sandi Sudduth voted unanimously to contribute the city’s fair share.
Does not $1.124 million sound much better than $874,000?
Combined, Walker County and the City of Jasper pledged $500,000 over the course of the next five years, or nearly 45 percent of the total. That deserves applause.
Jack McNeely is the publisher of the Daily Mountain Eagle and can be contacted by phone at 205-221-2840 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.