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Cullman Named No. 2 Micropolitan Area Based on Corporate Facility Investment

Photo by Dave Warren
We have some great leadership and people that recognize from the outside that Cullman is the place to be, and they’re starting to recognize it more and more every day. They know what you and I have known a long time!”
Cullman Economic Development Director, Peggy Smith

 

ATLANTA -  Cullman has been named the No. 2 Micropolitan Area in the United States based on corporate facility investment (cities of 10,000 to 50,000 people which cover at least one county) by Site Selection magazine. This is an improvement from 2014, when Cullman was No. 3. Local officials with the Cullman Economic Development Agency made the announcement at a luncheon Wednesday morning.

In the magazine's ranking of Top Micropolitans — cities of 10,000 to 50,000 people which cover at least one county - Findlay, Ohio, was tops among the nation's 575 micropolitan areas, followed by Cullman, Alabama; Wooster, Ohio; Tupelo, Mississippi and a tie between Shelby, North Carolina and Batavia, New York. Ohio once again led as the state with most Top Micropolitans (19).

"What all of the leading metros and micros have in common is a proactive cluster of corporate and civic leaders who know how to forge connections that make their companies and their communities stronger," said Adam Bruns, managing editor of Site Selection.

Site Selection, the 62-year-old Atlanta-based magazine, published by Conway Inc., is the senior publication in the corporate real estate and economic development fields and is the official publication of the Global FDI Association (www.globalfdia.org) and the Industrial Asset Management Council (IAMC, at www.iamc.org). Site Selection's yearly analyses are regarded by corporate real estate analysts as "the industry scoreboard." The magazine's circulation base consists of 48,000 subscribers, most of whom are involved in corporate site selection decisions at the CEO/President/COO level.

Site Selection’s Conway Projects Database focuses on new corporate facility projects with significant impact, including headquarters, manufacturing plants, R&D operations and logistics sites, among others. It does not track retail and government projects, or schools and hospitals. New facilities and expansions included in the analyses must meet at least one of three criteria: (a) involve a capital investment of at least US$1 million, (b) create at least 20 new jobs or (c) add at least 20,000 sq. ft. (1,858 sq. m.) of new floor area.

 

Cullman Economic Development Agency Director Peggy Smith had lots to say about the No. 2 honor.

“We credit it to the wonderful industries we have in this community. When you consider the number of projects, 18, when you consider that our industries created 18 different projects and investments for last year, which all met the criteria (New facilities and expansions included in the analyses must meet at least one of three criteria: (a) involve a capital investment of at least US$1 million, (b) create at least 20 new jobs or (c) add at least 20,000 sq. ft. (1,858 sq. m.) of new floor area). That is, in my opinion, a monumental fete, and speaks so highly of the quality of the industries we have in this community.

“The expansions created to the majority of this. There are no projects that are more important to us in Economic Development than existing industry. They are no. 1 in our book every day, and it’s through their efforts and their investment and jobs that this community continues to grow and that we have the strong industrial growth that we have. New projects are wonderful, and from the minute a new project locates in Cullman, it immediately becomes an existing industry, and our focus is on them just as we are focused now on those that have been here previously. It’s up to us to support the industries that we have and to do what we can to help them grow and be even stronger. I feel that our office has tried hard to do the very best we can to assist our existing companies.”

So how does Smith feel about this honor?

“It makes me extremely proud of the staff we have at Cullman EDA and very grateful towards the community in which you and I live and where these industries are located. It says that we are very determined and that we are growth-oriented and that we are not going to accept being in third or second placed, that we know we are the best in the U.S. and that next year we are confident we will be No. 1 in the U.S.,” she said.

Does that mean the Cullman EDA has a full plate this year?

“We have a number of local industries that have some plans that they’re looking at,” said Smith. “And what we want to do is just to continue to work with them and others, to let them know that that Cullman is open for business and that we are ready to help them in any way to grow and locate in our community.”

Speaking to the growth Cullman has seen lately, Smith said, “We can’t thank the industries enough. It’s hard to realize the quality of what we have, the industries that we have. It’s hard for me sometimes to just get my head around how many wonderful companies we have and the jobs they’ve produced. You can always say, ‘Well, things could be better, maybe job opportunities could be more plentiful and maybe wages could be higher.’ And all of those things are true, and we want all of those things for our community, but I am grateful every day for the industries that call Cullman home, and I just think it is our mission to do everything we can to help them continue to be profitable and successful here. The jobs are very, very important to us, and as long as you have the jobs, everything else can fall into place. Life cannot be good without a job. We just have to do what we can to have to continue to try to meet the needs of our citizens.”

Smith is very proud of the work her staff has done.

“Pulling all of this together from our staff’s end; they do a great job, we try to make sure that we are very credible and the information we submit to Conway Data and Site Selection is accurate so that is accepted, but without the industries like ours that are producting these projects and continuing to reinvest in Cullman, none of this would be possible. We owe them a huge debt of thanks.”

On the state of things in Cullman, Smith exclaimed, “We are just real excited. We’re pleased to be No. 2. I mean, you think, there are 575 of us (Micropolitian Areas) in the U.S.!  We are very, very blessed. I’m so glad the news doesn’t have to be reporting on closings and layoffs and so many things we’re seeing across the U.S. right now.  I’m glad those things are not occurring here. We’re talking about things like hospital expansions and us being No. 2. here. So many things are wonderful, including retail. I’m so proud of our community and what’s been accomplished. We have some great leadership and people that recognize from the outside that Cullman is the place to be, and they’re starting to recognize it more and more every day. They know what you and I have known a long time!”

A full breakdown of 2015 results can be found at http://siteselection.com/issues/2016/mar/top-micropolitans.cfm.

For more information, visit http://www.cullmaneda.org/.

  • Lisa Jones Photography
    Peggy Smith, Culllman EDA