Montgomery County, the home of Alabama’s state capitol in central Alabama and part of the state’s River Region, also is known as the first capital of the Confederate States of America and as the birthplace of the Civil Rights movement.
That history has been preserved in many ways throughout the city of Montgomery, but Montgomery also has been growing, redeveloping and remaking itself, especially in the last several years. The result is an impressive downtown entertainment district that makes the most of its tourism draw, yet creates an inviting place to live, work and play.
Strategically located at the intersection of Interstate 85 and Interstate 65, with the Alabama and Tallapoosa rivers running through it, Montgomery County has a great deal of economic diversity.
It is home to state and regional governments, Maxwell-Gunter Air Force Base, the area’s largest employer, an extensive service industry, wholesale and retail trade and an industrial base that includes Hyundai Motor Manufacturing of Alabama, the area’s largest industrial employer.
It 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.
Much of the city’s economic development planning stems from the Imagine a Greater Montgomery program, a plan that includes community development and other quality of life issues. “We are in our first year of this second phase of the program, which goes from 2012 to 2016, ” says Ellen McNair, senior vice president of corporate development for the Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce, the economic development arm of the county. “It is an economic development strategy that we have had since the early 1990s. Goals include championing education, leadership development, image of the area and economic development sectors.
“We work closely with city and county government and build on our economic capital, ” she says. That sentiment is echoed by other local leaders, who say they work well together. The result is growth that usually isn’t seen in an economic recession.
McNair says the county continues to recruit advanced manufacturing that includes automotive and aerospace, information technology, warehouse and logistics, and health care-related industry. Montgomery County provides the vast majority of jobs in the River Region counties of Montgomery, Autauga, Elmore and Lowndes, so many people commute into the county for work.
Lori Chandler Pruitt is a freelance writer for Business Alabama. She lives in Birmingham.
Lori Chandler Pruitt