Shelby County, part of the Birmingham metro area in central Alabama, has long been known for its great quality of life. While the county has grown and changed, that reputation still stands.
“There are two things we are focusing on — one is to make sure we are improving our customer services, whether it is for residents or businesses,” says Chad Scroggins, county manager. “We also want to continue improving quality of life aspects here.”
To that end, the county is building a new county services building, which should be open in July, and teaming with cities on projects from parks to workforce.
The county works with businesses to help them succeed, and financial tech firm SmartAsset ranks Shelby as a great place to launch a career.
About three years ago, the county, the Shelby County Chamber and other entities teamed to form economic development group 58 INC.
“Since 58 INC. was formed three years ago, our focus has been on strengthening the Shelby County economy holistically by attracting new businesses to enhance our community, helping retain and expand existing employers, and bringing attention to the workforce needs of employers throughout Shelby County,” says Paul Rogers, board chair of 58 INC. and senior executive vice president of NobleBank & Trust. “We are proud of our successes to date and the many relationships we have built, but much more remains to be done to maximize the great qualities of our county and provide a diverse selection of high-paying, quality jobs located here in Shelby County for all of our residents.”
Attracting high-paying jobs to the county has long been a priority, since many residents commute to Birmingham and surrounding areas, officials say. Both the chamber and 58 INC. work hard on career readiness. A recent project is the construction of a welding lab at Jefferson State Community College’s Shelby-Hoover campus, a collaborative effort to meet industry job needs.
A push to recruit more high-tech and biotech firms led the city of Hoover to add a zoning designation for research and development companies, says Greg Knighton, economic developer for the city. “We want to utilize the real estate we already have to attract more of these companies and thus create more opportunities,” he says. Newcomers include international molecular diagnostics company BioGX and McLeod Software, while biopharma firm Therachem has expanded.
Shelby County has a healthy service and hospitality industry. Alabama’s largest state park, Oak Mountain State Park, hosts more than 200 events annually while thriving as a local park for nearby residents. Bass fishing is a year-round sport on Lay Lake, which hosts major tournaments. An emerging culture and arts scene boasts two new venues in Columbiana and Montevallo.
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