Mobile County is the third largest economy in the state of Alabama with an annual GDP of about $20 billion, according to BEA.org.
The Mobile County Commission is making progress on many multi-year quality-of-life projects. Multiple funding sources like state and county GOMESA, Deepwater Horizon and conservation sources, as well as other restricted revenue streams, allow the county to finance much of the work using federal funding.
Each of these projects will increase public access to water:
Cedar Point Pier became a Mobile County property in 2022 and is open 24/7 for fishing with no fishing license required for Alabama residents.
Escatawpa Hollow Park & Campground is open for day use with an RV campground set to open later this year. Construction will soon begin on a café, general store, interpretive center and playground, as planning for newly acquired acreage continues.
Bayfront Park is currently closed for major renovations. The pocket beach is built and construction will begin soon on a playground, boardwalks and more.
Chickasabogue Park is presently closed for major renovations. Utility work has been done and construction will soon begin.
The former Linksman golf course, southwest of downtown, is now in design and planning and will become a public golf course, youth practice facility and waterfront park.
West Mobile County Park is open for youth sports, disc golf and more. Mobile County recently acquired additional acreage and major construction should begin in late 2023.
Mobile County Sportsplex continues to grow. The Soccer Complex is open with three fields but will culminate in 10 fields and related amenities. Once additional funding is secured, Phase I construction on the proposed Aquatics Center can begin.
Master planning has begun for Mobile County’s Civil Rights and Cultural Heritage Districts.
The Historic Avenue Cultural Center, the former “Davis Avenue Library” (the Black library during segregation), will open in September 2023 with “Remembering the Avenue,” an exhibition in partnership with the Alabama Contemporary Arts Center.
The city of Mobile is the fourth largest in Alabama and the largest in Mobile County. The expansion and diversification of multiple major industries have sustained the continued economic growth in Mobile and transformational projects are in motion that will impact all of the county and state.
Some of these projects are:
Mobile International Airport — The Mobile Airport Authority, city, state and federal partners are moving passenger air service from Mobile Regional Airport to the Mobile International Airport in downtown Mobile. When complete, Mobile International hopes to capitalize on its location easily accessed by interstate and close to downtown, recapturing the passenger market and recruiting additional airlines to help drive ticket costs down and provide more flight options to and from Mobile.
The Port of Mobile — With an annual economic impact of $85 billion, the Port of Mobile supports more than 300,000 jobs across the state. The Alabama State Port Authority is growing Mobile’s container terminal capabilities and plans to establish a new logistics facility and an inland intermodal facility served by CSX in Montgomery. A federally funded deepening and widening project is underway at the port, which will make it the deepest container terminal on the Gulf coast and one of the most critical intermodal freight transport hubs in the United States.
Brookley by the Bay — In 2020, the city of Mobile partnered with the state of Alabama to purchase hundreds of acres of waterfront property along Mobile Bay just to the east of the Brookley Aeroplex. The city has worked with the community to create a vision for a world-class park on that property that will connect Mobilians and visitors to the water’s edge and the area’s rich ecosystems. After months of public input, a master plan for the future Brookley by the Bay Park was recently completed. That plan will guide the design and construction plans for the park, which the city and its partners are already working on.
Africatown — When Africatown Heritage House opens in July of 2023, the facility will be the first of many ways tourists and visitors can directly engage with Africatown’s history. Led by the Mobile County Commission and supported by the city Mobile, the Heritage House will be the home of “Clotilda: The Exhibition.” Curated by the History Museum of Mobile, in close collaboration with the community and descendants of Africatown’s founders, it has already been named one of the “Best New Museums in the U.S.”
With 16,200 residents, Saraland has seen a 30% population increase since the 2010 Census. Many factors contribute to the city’s rise in popularity, a main one being schools.
“Our school system is the catalyst for growth,” says Saraland Mayor Dr. Howard Rubenstein. “One of the major attractions to our city is the quality of our school system.”
Saraland City Schools have consistently earned an “A” on the Alabama Department of Education’s District Report Card.
Saraland’s other big project is the proposed Sportsplex. When completed in early 2025, the $54 million campus will feature five multi-purpose fields for football, soccer and lacrosse; and six softball/baseball diamonds, volleyball, pickleball, tennis and basketball courts. In addition, nature trails, walking and biking paths and an art exercise facility are included.
“Considerable investments have been made in improvements and renovations throughout the city,” says Mayor Barry Broadhead. “This not only adds quality of life for existing families and businesses, but also attracts new homeowners and commerce.”
In 2023, Brooks Park, with its boardwalk extending over Chickasaw Creek, will see upgrades in kayaking facilities, parking improvements and erosion control.
In addition, Chickasaw Elementary School will soon have a new 12-unit classroom wing. Chickasaw High School construction has begun for two career and technical classrooms and athletic rooms.
As for the future, Broadhead adds, “The city will capitalize on the growth of industry at the Port of Chickasaw to further develop the Port of Chickasaw and seek to add new industries and commercial businesses.”
Town of Dauphin Island
Dauphin Island is building a $1.5 million community center, set to open by the end of 2023. “The new facility will fill a void the island needed for a long time,” says Mayor Jeff Collier. “We were unable to accommodate meeting space for large crowds up to 400,” he notes. “We can now, when this is complete.” The 13,000-square-foot facility will house meeting and activity rooms, a stage, kitchen and other facilities.
As reported by the 2020 U.S. Census, since 2010, Dauphin Island has seen a 30% population increase.
Satsuma takes pride in being recognized as one of the safest cities in Alabama. “We will continue, striving to maintain our city as one with low crime and a safe place to live,” says Mayor Mark Barlow. “That is a huge plus for us.”
Another plus for Satsuma is its city-owned school system. The district recently added a science lab and outdoor classroom at Lee Elementary, and the Alabama Wildlife Federation now recognizes the space as a Certified Alabama Outdoor Classroom.
This article appears in the June 2023 issue of Business Alabama.