Gov. Robert Bentley called Alexander City and places like it, "The backbone of Alabama," during his visit to Tallapoosa County Tuesday.
"Small towns are important. I'm from a small town" Gov. Bentley said after meeting with city and county leaders at Alexander City Hall.
The governor also took a tour of the robotics lab at Central Alabama Community College where students learn to operate the machinery used at Honda and Hyundai plants in Alabama.
"What you're doing here is special" the governor told college leaders during a brief meeting. The governor's visit brought some comfort to residents who haven't had a lot to cheer about in recent years.
Residents in Alexander City are concerned for the future. "People travel away for jobs at places like Kia and Hyundai" said Darrell Mobley, who worked in Human Resources at Russell Athletic for 21 years. "I even know people who drive all the way to Lincoln to work at Honda."
Russell Athletic announced that it would close its mill in Alexander City, the last remaining segment of what once a booming textile and apparel industry. "It's really sad" Mobley said. "We need more jobs here."
Mobley has held a handful of different jobs. He sells insurance just off of the square.
"We know what assets this place has" Mobley says. "We have the lake. That will always bring people from other cities and other states to come here."
Gov. Bentley agreed. He said if the city keeps its school system at a high performing level then it will at least make it possible to get an automotive or aviation supplier to move to Alexander City. The governor added there's only so much the state can do to help.
"What you have to do is you have to do exactly as Alexander City's doing right now. You have to prepare yourself. Locals have to work on it and we cannot do that from the state level. They have to have everything ready."
Darrell Mobley says Alexander City is still a vibrant town, but he does want the people there to get back to the lives they knew. "People getting to work at seven thirty and getting home at seven thirty, that's tough for the family."
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