Spotlight on Montgomery County

Montgomery County, in central Alabama, is part of the state’s River Region and is home to the state’s capital city. Steeped in history, the city of Montgomery is known as the birthplace of the Civil Rights Movement and much more. 

Recently named the Best Historic City by USA Today, its attractions and events relating not only to history but also to sports tourism, music festivals and more, bring in more than $1 million per day in economic impact. Montgomery Regional Airport passenger traffic is trending up, especially when compared to just a year ago. 

Downtown, with its well-preserved historic sites, is also growing by leaps and bounds. About 500 new apartments, lofts and condos are on the planning books and some are under construction. There is an impressive downtown entertainment district that makes the most of its tourism draw, yet creates an inviting place to live, work and play. More retail is expected to follow these new rooftops. 

Montgomery is strategically located at the intersection of Interstates 85 and 65, with the Alabama and Tallapoosa rivers running through it and close to the center of the state — a combination that has attracted a great deal of economic diversity.

Home to state government for more than a century, Montgomery also is home to Maxwell-Gunter Air Force Base, the area’s largest employer. It boasts an extensive service industry, wholesale and retail trade and an industrial base that includes Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama, the area’s largest industrial employer, which makes two of the top-selling sedans in America — the Sonata and Elantra.

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Montgomery is a regional trade center, a wholesale and distribution gateway to the Southeast. It also is served by an integrated railroad system, airlines, motor freight lines, a national bus line and a city bus line. Health care and higher education are key both to the economy and to the quality of life.

The Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce, which also spearheads economic development, recently released three new websites — the chamber site, an economic development site and a tourism site — all linked to provide even more information to visitors. The chamber’s Convention & Visitor Bureau was recently awarded the “Shining Example Award” for Tourism Office of the Year. 

Much of the city’s economic development success stems from the chamber’s Imagine a Greater Montgomery II strategic economic development plan, which focuses on education, leadership development, image of the area and economic development sectors growth.

The latest economic development news represents expanded opportunities for high school students, those seeking work and those who need retraining. Education and government groups announced a partnership in fall 2014 that will help train students in the skills that Montgomery-area businesses need the most. The Montgomery Regional Workforce Training Center is moving toward a permanent home in the former Montgomery Mall. 

Lori Chandler Pruitt is a freelance writer for Business Alabama. She lives in Birmingham.     

text by lori chandler pruitt

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