Talladega and Calhoun counties, in northeast Alabama, are as bountiful in economic opportunity as they are in natural resources.
The landscapes of these Appalachian foothills draw outdoor enthusiasts from across the Southeast.
Interstate access follows an historical track that now draws a diverse, modern economy. Major employers include the Anniston Army Depot in Calhoun County and Honda Manufacturing of Alabama in Talladega County — the counties’ largest employers. And these powerhouses are drawing their own circle of suppliers — new defense contractors and auto suppliers that add to the momentum.
Large employment sectors, such as health care, tourism and higher education, help round out the list of these counties’ economic engines. Existing industries are investing in expansions as vigorously as new recruits.
Reflecting the overall well-being of the area, the city of Talladega was recently ranked 24th among Alabama’s 50 top business-friendly cities by the Alabama Policy Institute, jumping 20 spots forward from last year, says Brian Muenger, Talladega city manager. And the city of Anniston is hiring an economic developer to focus solely on the city of Anniston and the development of McClellan, as well as building alliances with countywide economic developers.
Both counties are also working to improve the quality of life for their residents and are actively seeking more retail and revitalized downtowns. McClellan, the former Army installation that is now a mixed-use development, continues to attract residents and businesses. Cities are boosting existing attractions and building new ones, such as aquatic centers and trails for biking and walking.
Lori Chandler Pruitt is a freelance writer for Business Alabama. She lives in Birmingham.
text by Lori Chandler Pruitt